Record-breaking South Shields panto packs them in

David John Hopper as Arbuthnot and Ray Spencer as Dame Trott
David John Hopper as Arbuthnot and Ray Spencer as Dame Trott

This year's Customs House panto is a record-breaker - oh yes it is!

Jack and the Beanstalk completed a run of 69 performances last weekend and sold more than 27,000 tickets - 2,000 up on last year's show Alice in Wonderland.

The production was also awarded the Most Entertaining Pantomime accolade in the prestigious North East Theatre Guide Best of 2016 guide.

The show was co-written by Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer MBE, who also starred and directed the show.

Long-time collaborator Graeme Thompson, Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Sunderland, was Ray’s co-writer.

"It’s hugely gratifying and humbling to think so many people chose to make our little panto with the big heart to be part of their festive celebrations," said Ray.

"We never take our audience for granted and this year’s cast worked especially hard to ensure those who put their trust in us were rewarded with a couple of hours of pure fun. I’d

like to thank my fellow cast members, the wider Customs House team, our generous sponsors, and our audiences for making Jack and the Beanstalk a very special and

memorable show."

Ray played Dame Trott, while Luke Madison played Jack and newcomer David John Hopper played the Dame’s other son Arbuthnot. Steve Lee Hamilton was the evil Fleshcreep,

Natasha Haws was principal girl Eloise, Gareth Hunter played her dad the Mayor and Eleanor Chaganis was the Fairy.

For the seventh consecutive year, the show’s set and costumes were designed by Paul Shriek and Matt Fox.

2Also celebrating record numbers was The Customs House’s panto for under-sevens, Santa’s Naughty Elf.

The show, written, directed and starring Wayne Miller, was seen by more than 4,500 people.

Ray is already planning this year’s panto, The Lambton Worm: "It’s the 150th anniversary of the famous song, which was actually written for a panto," he said.

"It was also the first panto performed here at The Customs House, so the time was right for us to do it again.

"The Lambton Worm legend is a great story and one that lends itself to a panto. I’m very grateful to Hays Travel, who very generously have once again agreed to be our main

sponsor."

More than 3,000 tickets have already been sold for the show, which will start on November 28. Tickets are available from the box office on 0191 454 1234 or by logging on to The

Customs House’s new website at www.customshouse.co.uk