Fairy-tale Role for Finbar this Christmas
Son treading the same boards as dad Brendan Healy
A young comedian who grew up watching his dad make millions of people laugh on stage and TV is following in his footsteps by joining the very pantomime company that was always close to his dad’s heart.
Finbar Healy, son of the late great, comedian, actor and musician Brendan Healy is starring in the Geordie Panto Company’s production of Cinderella. Now in their 3rd consecutive year as Gateshead’s first and only professional Christmas pantomime, the company create a modern theatre arena experience, which includes a 700-seater family-friendly auditorium, state of the art light and sound technology and fully accessible facilities.
Finbar will be playing an Ugly Sister alongside Tyneside comedy legend and company founder, director and writer, Maxie Peters, a role he is looking forward to taking on.
“I grew up with the panto in my blood. Dad was a founder of the company back in 1995, when it played to audiences at Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre. 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.”
The Company is proud of its North East roots and employs, a host of North East talent both in front of the curtain and behind the scenes to bring its unique brand of family festive entertainment.
This year’s production of Cinderella once again has a very Geordie feel to it with “fairy-tale” settings such as Dunston and Jesmond, plenty of Geordie humour and local references and of course, not forgetting the Company’s “World Famous” 12 Days of Christmas routine which has had audiences in hysterics for more than 20 years, all of which create the ingredients for a Christmas feast of family entertainment.
Despite moving from their long-standing Christmas residency at Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre and Opera House in 2016, audiences have remained loyal and followed them to their new home at Gateshead International Stadium.
“People are amazed at the auditorium we build from scratch every Christmas”, Finbar says. “In literally one day, this huge empty space within the Stadium’s main building facility 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”.
It’s not just the internal transformations however, that make a visit to this pantomime a fantastic family experience. Located just 5 minutes from Newcastle city centre, with free car parking space for hundreds of vehicles plus great public transport links, including a dedicated Metro station just moments’ walk from the venue, leave city centre traffic jams, parking issues and delays behind.
From Tynemouth, father of three, Finbar is looking forward to involving his children, Adaline (2), Elise (12) and Arya (11 months) in the production just like his dad did with him.
“Kids of all ages just love panto and the Geordie Panto Company is in my blood thanks to my dad. I want my children to have the same warm memories that I have at this special time of year.
“Christmas is a time for family, fun and being festive and this is exactly what this panto is all about. We give Cinderella the Geordie treatment and everyone in the audience no matter what age will love it.
“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!”
Cinderella by the Geordie Panto Company runs at Gateshead International Stadium from 6 to 29 December. Ticket information: https://gatesheadstadiumpanto.co.uk