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He’s behind you! (I wish)

I’m affectionately known as Scrooge, or just Mr Bah Humbug. Mention Christmas to me, show me Santa or a Christmas Tree before December and I’ll tell ya to f*ck off. But once the first of December hits suddenly I turn into one of Santa’s elves, singing festive songs and spreading that aul Christmassy joy everywhere. So, when I was asked to take the kids along to the panto at the Grand Opera House in Belfast I was as proud as that fairy upon the tree!

I picked up my son, his wee best mate and my ex-wife (there’s a story there obvs), and we headed into town, we were all jittery with excitement, even my son who’s at that age where he’s supposed to be dead cool. We got to The Opera House, took to our seats and waited in anticipation. The lights went down and the curtain went up…

David Badella (in loads of TV and theatre things, oh and played Hook last year), who plays Flesh Creep the Villain opened the show and the set the scene with a dark little number. We were then introduced to Jack (played by the exceptionally talented and beautiful Michael Pickering) and some of the rest of the cast, the stage opened up and the enchantment of the set was revealed. We quickly learned about the show romance between Jack and Princess Apricot during their upbeat rendition of Justin Timberlake’s 'Can’t Stop the Feeling' – it was all fabulously camp and the audience were obviously singing along.

Belfast royalty, May McFettridge is back, this year she’s playing the role of Jack’s mum; Dame May Trot, even though we have seen May doing dozens of stand-up routines and Panto’s, she never fails to raise a belly laugh in us. She didn’t disappoint, entertaining the crowd with her usual wise cracks and some jokes that only the adults would understand.

The story itself isn’t just your standard Jack and the Beanstalk tale, there are a few unexpected delightful twists and turns. There’s Jack’s brother Simon who spends the whole panto waiting on a call from the love of his life, there’s Mother Nature who’s magic wand doesn’t work in The Clouds (Giant land), and there’s Farmer Paddy Trot – long suffering husband of May. Lots and lots of slapstick comedy, oh no he isn’t lines, bright & energetic song and dance routines (the one with the animals going to market is a hoot).

Sound, lighting and special effects are second to none. There are flames, smoke, pyrotechnics, massive stage crashing giants and even a scene where May is in a helicopter (yes, you can’t believe it till you see it), she leaves the stage and flies over the audience.

All in all this was a great show, and is a panto in Belfast really a panto in Belfast without May McFettridge? Go on your own, treat your partner, be the best dad, or the most fabulous Guncle – book your tickets and get along to this year’s panto in the GOH

Tickets are extremely limited, book at

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