SOUTH Shields superstar Joe McElderry is on his way home after finishing his first-ever pantomime run.
The 22-year-old X Factor and Popstar to Operastar champion became Prince Charming as he stepped into festive show Cinderella last month.
Joe, of Westoe, has been in the panto, at the Beck Theatre in Hayes, Middlesex, since December 14.
The star performed his last two shows yesterday and said he’d had the time of his life.
Speaking from his dressing room during an interval, he said: “The audiences have just been incredible and really supportive, and it’s been good for me to be in one place for a while rather then just spending one night at a venue then moving on.
“Panto is a very different way of working, but I’ve loved being part of a cast, and, I’m not going to lie, I’ve just had a blast.
“I thought it was going to be really hard work, but we’ve just had such a laugh on stage every day. I’ve just had four weeks of fun.
“The comedy side of the performance has been brilliant. It’s rare that I get to do things like that, but I’ve worked with some great comedians in Cinderella, and I’ve learned a lot from them.”
Joe appeared in the show alongside Shane Richie Jnr, the son of Coleen Nolan and Shane Richie, and a host of other actors.
He said: “Everyone is just so lovely, and I’ve definitely made some lasting friendships.
“Some of the cast members are going to come along to see one of my shows this year, and it’ll be great to see them again.
“I’ve always loved panto, but being a part of it and up on the stage is just 10 times better.”
Now Joe is happy to be heading back to his home town of South Shields and is looking ahead to a busy year.
In March, the singer will set off on his Set Your Soul Alive Tour, which will see him play more than 60 dates around the UK, including three sell-out shows at the Customs House. It’s his biggest tour to date.
He said: “I have missed home, so I can’t wait to get back and sleep in my own bed. It feels like it’s been so long since I last did.
“I’m starting to get a little nervous about the tour because it’s a big show that we need to put together.
“I’ll be starting rehearsals in February, though, and I’m sure I’ll have fun putting it all together.
“The great thing about this tour is that I’m not promoting an album, so I can do whatever I want.
“I can do songs from any of my albums and some new covers.
“Set Your Soul Alive is all about having fun, and I can’t wait to get out there with it really. It’s going to be a big year.”
For a full list of tour dates, go to www.joemcelderryofficial.com
The Customs House panto, which was also Cinderella, came to a close last night too.
It had run at the Mill Dam venue since November 28.