Following in father’s (panto) footsteps

Published: 19 October 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Finbar Healy as Ugly Sister
Brendan Healy
The cast: Angela Chard, Bob Stott, Finbar Healy (behind), Lewis Jobson, Emily Swan, Maxie Peters and Jamie Brown (not present: Jacob Anderton and Dancers)

Finbar Healy will join the Geordie Panto as one of the Ugly Sisters in this year’s show, Cinderella, which will run in the specially adapted auditorium in Gateshead International Stadium from 6 to 29 December.

The Geordie Panto Company began life as the resident panto producer for the Tyne Theatre and Opera House in Newcastle from 1995 until 2016. The company was founded by Maxie Peters (who is also writing and appearing in this year's show as the other Ugly) and Finbar’s father, Brendan Healy, who died from cancer in February 2016.

“I grew up with the panto in my blood,” Finbar Healy said. “As a child, I’ve fond memories of helping in all of the different parts of the production from hitting cymbals in the orchestra pit to selling merchandise and even getting up on stage as the cute kid from the audience. I always found it funny when my dad asked me my name.

“People are amazed at the auditorium we build from scratch every Christmas,” he adds. “In literally one day, this huge empty space within the Stadium’s main building becomes a 700-seat arena-style theatre. The first magical experience hits you when you walk in and see the fantastic lights, huge stage and the live band strikes up the opening music.

“Being in this panto has brought me even closer to my dad. He lived and breathed it and I get the feeling that he is watching over me and giving me his blessing and support. It’s almost as if 'he’s behind me!'"

The company prides itself as being very Geordie, setting its shows locally (this year’s fairy tale settings include Dunston and Jesmond) and always using local performers.

The cast also includes Emily Swan (Cinderella), Jamie Brown (Prince Charming), Lewis Jobson (Buttons), Bob Stott (Baron Hardup), Jacob Anderton (Dandini). Angela Chard (Fairy Godmother), Sherrie McKale and Dan Constanzo (Dancers).

Maxie Peters writes and directs and Michael Watson is the musical director and Emily Swanthe choreographer.