HE just couldn’t keep away.
A year after retiring from 37 years of pantoland, Ray Spencer is ready to get back on stage – but this time with a new look.
The 57-year-old, who also called it a day with his alter-ego Tommy The Trumpeter last summer after 25 years – will be starring in this year’s Customs House panto of Little Red Riding Hood as the dame, Nana Hood.
The father-of-four knows he has a lot to live up to by taking on the dame role – which had previously been filled by his long-term friend Bob Stott, who hung up his frocks in 2012.
Ray, who is chief executive of the theatre in Mill Dam, says he can’t wait to get back into the swing of things after missing last year’s show of Cinderella.
He said: “It’s a real challenge to try and fill the boots of the legend that was Bob Stott. There were a number of people saying to me ‘why don’t you give it a go?’.
“So I thought, ‘well, why not’.
“This year it’s a dame who is an older grandmother, and I think that, as an older grandfather type, I could do it well.
“It’s also a wonderful opportunity to go back and see the people that I missed last Christmas.
“I am hoping they will also come back and see me, to find out what I look like dressed up as a woman.”
The show will also be a family affair for Ray.
His daughter Natasha, 20, is taking on the title role, while younger daughter Georgina, 12, will be performing in the show with South Tyneside Dance Workshop.
Ray, who is also father to James, eight, and Melissa, 12, said: “I think Natasha is more worried than I am, but I hope working with her and Georgina, who will be on stage with her dance school, she’ll be fine.
“Their mum Trish was also a regular in panto, so it’s following in a long family tradition for us all.”
Little Red Riding Hood will be on at the Customs House from December 2 to January 10.
Tickets cost £10. To book, call 454 1234.