South Shields singer Joe McElderry returns to Newcastle Theatre Royal panto and audience 'love it!'

01.12.23 Joe McElderry Pinocchio Credit: Paul Coltas
Joe McElderry is returning for the third time to Newcastle's Theatre Royal pantomime and this year plays Jiminy Cricket in a brand-new adaptation of Pinocchio. Credit: Paul Coltas

South Shields singer and former X Factor winner Joe McElderry is back for his third panto at Newcastle Theatre Royal.

McElderry, who took the venue by storm when he appeared as the man in the mirror for a festive production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 2021, said the theatre was one of the the best in the country.

In 2022, he starred as the Fairy Godfather in Cinderella and is now delighted to be back for his third year.

He told ITV Tyne Tees: "You do really feel a sense the audience are with us from the minute the show begins. They love it!

"I really love the atmosphere and the warmth in that room. I think it's one of the best theatres in the country. It's such a special building. The audiences - looking out and seeing families of all ages - grandparents, parents, kids - coming and absolutely having the time of their lives.

"For us, there is no better feeling as a performer to just look out and see a huge age range of people having a great night out."

Joe McElderry loves being back in panto at Newcastle's Theatre Royal and has had so much fun in rehearsals preparing to play Jiminy Cricket. Credit: Paul Coltas ( L ); Thomas Jackson ( R )

McElderry is cast in a brand-new adaptation of Pinocchio and his co-star Danny Adams teases him on-stage about playing a cricket but McElderry said: "Stranger things have happened! Its great! It's a really fun part. I feel really lucky to be part of such a wonderful team. I was welcomed here three years ago and I am returning next year."

As for the costume, he added: "It's very heavy and it's very hot but we suffer for the art because it does look fantastic. The glittery hat with the antennas really helps me get into the character."

Father and son comedy double-act, Danny (right) and Clive Adams (left), have starred in Newcastle Theatre Royal's pantomime for 18 years. Credit: Paul Coltas

McElderry shot to stardom after winning ITV's X Factor on 13 December, 2009 so this time of year holds very fond memories for the 32-year-old singer.

Looking back 14 years, McElderry said: "It feels like a lifetime ago! I was only 18 - I am now 32. I am getting old you see - I feel like a different person."

Reflecting on the final, when he sang with George Michael, he described the singer as "so talented and really nice."

"The producers told me I was singing Don't let the sun go down on me and I thought there was not a chance - not a hope - of Elton John or George Michael coming on with me. I remember at the time when I was told he was coming on I thought 'oh my God!'

"Then I got a phone call from one of the producers telling me George was coming so I phoned me mam and she said 'there's not a chance he's gonna sing with you!"

Joe McElderry was 18-years-old when he was mentored by fellow Geordie singing star, Cheryl, and won ITV's X-Factor on 13 December, 2009. Credit: PA

With sometimes three pantomimes a day, McElderry can struggle to spend time with his own family over Christmas.

"We get one day off - Christmas Day. I have everybody at my house. I don't do the cooking. I pass that baton on to other family members. I have a few drinks, eat lots of food and I am normally in bed by half seven because I am exhausted and then they all have a party in my house!"

Pinocchio is a new pantomime from the world's largest producers, Crossroads Pantomimes and is directed by their chief executive, Michael Harrison.

Harrison, originally from Wallsend, is a successful West End producer who has returned to the region to oversee and direct this production.

McElderry will return next year for another new pantomime - The Little Mermaid.

The former X-Factor winner Joe McElderry ( R ) says the "glittery hat and antennas" help him get into the character of Jiminy Cricket. Credit: Paul Coltas

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