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Review: The Greatest Show on The Tyne! at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Chris Cross the Magician presents 
The Greatest Show on The Tyne!
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Friday 2nd September 2016

Chris Cross has curated a show that brings back the spirit of the original music hall shows. It had the flavour of a big Saturday night special on ITV like Saturday Night At The Palladium. The big difference with a TV show is that this is live, no edits or retakes can be permitted. The danger that is hereditary to the format adds to the excitement in the show. Indeed within the mixed bag of 15 acts, there was something for everyone but the acts that came across best were the ones living dangerously.

The doors opened at 7 and straight away an act was on stage to entertain the audience as they found their seats. In other words the show had 3 ½ hours of entertainment for the £12 ticket price, no wonder the crowd were on their feet at the end.

The opening entertainer was Chris Johns. His selection of lounge classics wouldn’t be out of place on a cruise ship, or in one of the better bars in Benidorm. He certainly set the mood for the appearance of our host Chris Cross at the published start time of 7:30 – it was a nice touch.

Chris appears in a trap pulled by a pony, called Marley, like the star arriving in a panto. Chris had a big task to do in pulling the show together with both introductions and some of his own act. During the course of the night members of the audience were to assist in card tricks and tying him up in a strait-jacket. Both feats showed his skills as an entertainer.

The Cathouse Belles Can-Canned a short dance routine before the Talk of the Tyne legend Bobby Pattinson came on for a rare appearance. It is more than simple stand up as this marvellous raconteur delivers his stories about the Geordie dialect and Working Men’s Club doormen. The years of experience deliver a class performance that left one wanting more after his short set.

The evening had a number of short specialist acts coming on to wow the audience.  The first of these was Bruce Airhead who literally went inside a balloon much to the amazement of the audience. This was followed by Rosy Bloomers with her hoola hoops in the first half. The trainer of circus and aerial performers was to appear in the second half too with an awesome routine from a hoop hanging from the ceiling. (See details about her lessons in Gateshead)

Before the North East Theatre Guide started we had witnessed Pete Peverley delivering a one-man show about the act known as the Little Waster. It was a very thoughtful piece about the performer, Bobby Thompson, that reached the top but refused to compromise before his death in 1988. Tonight Pete plays Bobby as an angel that’s come back to Earth to reflect upon the state of affairs that we currently have. In the style of Bobby we have a funny monologue about how we are still in debt and how life in heaven still suits Bobby.

Magic was a part of the mix and Mark Raffles appeared to do an amusing routine with interlocking rings before Liverpool’s Diamond and Jade appeared. They performed some larger scale illusions. It is one thing to see a lady disappear into a box and then see the box pulled apart and/or have plates and polls shoved in on tv. Seeing it live still leaves you wondering…how? My hat goes off to Jade in achieving the apparently impossible and disappearing in front of us. 

The second act of the Greatest Show On The Tyne carried on with the same Vaudeville spirit. BBC Radio Newcastle’s breakfast host Alfie Joey came on with his stage partner Cal Halbert as The Mimic Men. Their act of many voices had been a hit during the recent series of Britain’s Got Talent. They finished their impressions with Frozen’s Let It Go sung by the stars of tv and film. Nat Lunatrick then appeared to show his millinery manipulation skills as hats rolled up and down his arms delightfully. 

Another voice from BBC Radio Newcastle came in the form of Durham comic Sue Sweeney. Her tales of nights out with the girls and the difficulty of living with her husband elicited laughs from the audience.

Singing one of his own songs, Geoff Mull from Gateshead showed that he has a powerful voice and his short time on stage was enjoyable.

After so many entertaining acts the show closed with a grand finale that had the wow factor. Acropolis, winners of TV’s Let’s Get Gold, are a young and extremely talented group of acrobats that were truly amazing. The audience held their breath as they made human pyramids. The one part of their act I didn’t expect was the human skipping rope.

The show was a success. A theatre full of people were given a show of real variety.  From jaw dropping acts of physical endurance through to funny comics, the show had plenty of high points. Everyone will have their favourite moments as there was something for everyone. Personally I enjoyed Pete Peverley’s update of Bobby Thompson’s act, I wanted to hear more from Bobby Pattinson, I enjoyed the magic and acrobatics. In short, it was a good night out and great value too. Hopefully Chris Cross will return with another large scale show in the future.

Chris does have a smaller Quayside Cabaret night at Newcastle’s Prima Ristorante. A 3 course meal and a cabaret show will set you back a mere £20.  The next 2 shows will be on the 22ndSeptember and 17th November. Further details can be found at

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Carliol Photography ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Carliol Photography on Facebook

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