PANTOMIME has always been a show for the whole family – and the Westovian Theatre Society’s annual show has definitely proven a family affair.
Long-time member Beryl Henderson is set to star in Rapunzel alongside her grandson Andrew Dawson.
The show, written by South Shields-born writer Philip Meeks, runs at the Westovian Theatre in Pier Parade, South Shields, from Friday, January 24 to Saturday, February 1.
It tells the classic tale of a girl with magical hair.
Andrew is taking on the role of Prince Flynn. It’s the first time in the history of the Westovians that a male has portrayed the prince in its pantomime.
The 17-year-old, from Harton, South Shields, said: “Rehearsals are going really well and we’re just starting to add in all the songs and dances.
“This is my first pantomime and to be able to take the lead is brilliant, especially since I’m the first male principal boy – a girl has always played the prince before.
“It’s a lot of pressure but I just want to do the best that I can.
“My gran wasn’t planning on doing the panto this year but I’m glad she has ended up being a part of it. She’s the one that inspired me to get into the theatre and the Westovians.”
Andrew, who will celebrate his 18th birthday during the run, added: “I’ve been going to see the Westovians panto every year since I can remember. My mam and dad always took me because my gran was either in it or directing it, so now I’m excited to be a part of it.
“It’s quite a different panto to what people have seen before, with a male principal and a female knockabout character.
“It’s great fun though and I’m sure people will enjoy it.”
Beryl, 77, who also lives in Harton, is starring as the evil Mother Gothel, who tries to keep Rapunzel’s magic to herself.
She added: “It’s absolutely fabulous to be in the pantomime with Andrew, and I’m very proud of him.
“I’ve always encouraged him and his brother, Peter, to get into the theatre and they’re both brilliant, although Peter is more of a behind the scenes person and prefers to direct.
“I’m so pleased that they decided to follow in my footsteps and being able to share Andrew’s first panto with him is fantastic.
“It’s a shame that we don’t have any scenes together but it’s been a lot of fun working on the show.
“I’ve been in the Westovians for 40 years and I saw my first ever panto when I was just four. I’ve never missed a year since of either seeing one or being in one and I’ve directed about 12 for the Westovians.
“We’ve never done Rapunzel before and it is a bit of a different show.
“Gareth Hunter is directing and doing a brilliant job. He’s made the Prince and Rapunzel look like the characters from the Disney film Tangled so the kids will recognise it.
“People are used to seeing me as the goodie, like the Fairy Godmother or something like that so I’m looking forward to playing the baddie for once.
“We’re having a lot of fun putting the show together and I’m sure people will have a lot of fun watching it.”
Rapunzel runs at the Westovian Theatre from Friday, January 24 to Saturday, February 1.
Tickets cost £7.50 for adults and £5 for children under 12.
To book, go to the Tourist Information Centre within Haven Point, which is opposite the theatre, or call the box office on 456 0980.