The husband of former Coronation Street star Paula Lane became a real-life Prince Charming – when he stepped in to save the day and star alongside her in panto with just an hour to prepare.
Covid cases among cast on the Sleeping Beauty panto at Northwich’s Memorial Court had meant the entire show was at risk of being cancelled earlier this week.
But as Paula’s husband is also an actor, he gamely agreed to don the robes of Prince Charming and head onto stage to ensure that the show would go on and that families could still get to enjoy the festive tradition.
On her Instagram she told followers: “Nothing could be more bonkers than this Christmas.
“Hubby swooped in to save the day as Prince Charming with an hour to spare. Accompanied by 2x kids and a dog.”
Adding the hashtags: “whataguy, and defnitelymyprince” for good measure.
The show has been put on by Manchester’s Anton Benson Productions, and producer Anton said he could not thank Tom enough for saving the day at the eleventh hour.
He got into the Prince Charming costume and, with book in hand, went on stage to the delight of the audience by all accounts.
Anton said: “The audiences loved him. He discovered the role on stage along with the audience and it was extremely engaging and endearing.”
The panto, like many across the UK, has been struck by a number of positive Covid tests among cast but they were determined not to let audiences down.
Anton said: “A few days before Christmas 3 of the cast on our Northwich Memorial Court panto received positive PCR tests and unfortunately we had to close the show for a couple of days (as we had duty of care to get everyone else tested).
“My Ellesmere Port show finished on Christmas Eve and at 6pm I asked comic (Ben Sherlock) and principal boy (Stacey Coleman), both ABP regulars if they would learn dame and Princess respectively to come on on Boxing Day.
“Additionally, one of our regular Northwich understudies agreed to step in as fairy.
“Everyone learnt the new parts on Christmas Day. And we were rehearsing them in on Boxing Day morning when the universe decided that three understudies wasn’t quite enough. We got a phone call from Barney to say his PCR had come back positive.
“Like myself, Paula was determined not to cancel another show and she immediately phoned her husband Tom Shaw, who drove to the theatre, had 30 minutes rehearsal, went on book in hand – and saved the show from being cancelled.”
Anton has had to face the same difficulties at his panto over at Oldham’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, where cast including Kerry Katona had to bow out after testing positive for Covid.
And yet again, understudies and friends rushed to the aid of the production to make sure as many shows as possible could go ahead.
Anton said: “I feel very proud, privileged and lucky to have an amazing team of performers at ABP.
“The ethos of my company is that we are a family, we care, we look after each other. It takes a special person to commit to ABP, but those who get it, get it. It’s more than a job to us, it’s a way of life.”