Pottery; Oatcakes with cheese; The Six Towns; “The D-road is blinkin’ gridlocked again!”; Bottle kilns; Wass’ Market; The Turnover Club; Captain Smith; Lemmy; Following Red and white or Black and white (as if!); Arnold Bennett…..some things are quintessentially linked to Stoke-on-Trent and a trip up ‘Anley (duck) to see Jonathan Wilkes and Christian Patterson in the panto will soon be joining that list, if it hasn’t already!

But the question tonight on the audience’s lips was - Could Cinderella do it on a cold, wet Tuesday night etc etc……..

Was it ever in doubt?

Last Christmas was one that virtually nobody would want to be repeated again, and for many people a trip to pantomime is an annual Festive Period pilgrimage and what Christmas is all about. However, due to the Tier 3 restrictions in place this time last year, there was no panto at The Regent. So, it’s great to see such an integral part of a Potteries’ Christmas up and running again.

Are there any surprises in Cinderella –no, but that never really mattered, did it? Are the jokes the same/similar –yes, and that’s why people go. It’s a comfort blanket of a night, a big Potteries two hours hug, a night where the proud people of this area congregate to laugh at our own city and people – because that’s what we do, and that’s what we like to do. We have always been able to take a joke at our expense – it’s a great Stokie trait. And the Wilkes/Patterson pairing don’t let us down, with any number of Potteries-poking-puns, and quite a few that only those of a certain vintage should ‘get’, too! Indeed, it’s possibly their most adult-orientated panto yet. Cinderella is pantomime royalty, and one that is simply perfect for the superb cast in front of us, backed by a brilliantly-written script, and a few off-the-cuff moments that can never be planned for but are always great to watch.

But in December 2021, it’s not really about what the panto is, who is in it, etc – it’s about it being staged at all. That’s the big triumph here; panto returning to city and town centres all over the country, and families having a cracking few hours together. Tonight is a celebration of what life is about – family, friends, fun, and community.

The crowd is captivated from the moment they take their seats, and Wilkes, Patterson, Kai Owen, and the rest of the gang are more than experienced and talented to grab that captivation and take it to wherever they want it to go. There’s also a fair bit of emotion in tonight’s performance too, from those on and off the stage - even facemasks couldn’t hide that. A little bit of normality crept back into life in ST1, and it was humbling to see so many smiles on faces of all ages.

You know the score by now, and you know exactly what you are getting when it comes to the annual panto at The Regent. And that is the absolute beauty of it all – a bit of certainty in a time of uncertainty. A guaranteed good time. You just know that you’ll be getting:

·      Great venue

·      Great people

·      Great entertainment

·      ….and it’s great to see the panto and Messrs Wilkes and Patterson back in business in Stoke-on-Trent

Other cities would give their back teeth to have our panto. It’s not about big names and bigger ticket prices. It’s not about a big celebrity saying their catchphrase, collecting mega bucks and then disappearing. It’s about community – our community. Just ask South Walian Christian Patterson about his thoughts on Stoke-on-Trent and its people. Panto at The Regent is to be cherished. Many tens of thousands do, and let’s pray that this continues to be the case.

Cinderella runs until Sunday 2 January, 2022

Tickets are on sale at https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/cinderella/regent-theatre/

or call 0844 871 7615