AN eclectic mix of music, drama and comedy for theatre-goers is on offer in South Tyneside in the coming months.
The Customs House, in South Shields, has revealed the line-up for its new season.
Ahead of this year’s return of the ‘little panto with the big heart’, the Mill Dam theatre is set to welcome lotto winners, gruesome murder and happily ever afters.
Executive director, Ray Spencer, said: “This season we can guarantee we have something for everyone.
“There are so many shows I’m looking forward to seeing myself, and in particular the return of Mike Yeaman’s Lucky Numbers as our annual Customs House production.
“We’re particularly excited to have Sunderland-born Michael Strassen to direct our flagship production, fresh from picking up the 2014 Off-West End Awards best director gong. We’re delighted the award-winning play will star Pat Dunn, who shot to fame as Nana in BBC’s Hebburn.”
For those who like the tried and tested classics, the venue has a new version of A Doll’s House, Henrick Ibsen’s play about marriage, money, and the freedom of women in the late 19th century and the ever-popular Rumpus Theatre return with Charles Dickens’ marvellously macabre Captain Murderer.
The Customs House has a long tradition of supporting new writing and this season is no different with plays including Send More Paper, Butterfly, Money the Gameshow, Dead to Me, Collector of Tears, GSOH ‘Would Like to Meet’ and Thirsty sure to whet the appetite of any theatre fan.
This autumn also sees old favourites, which originally premiered at the arts venue, return. The hilarious Dirty Dusting sweeps back in and the updated version of I Left My Heart in Roker Park is back.
Other plays include farce Perfect Wedding, mobster comedy The Big Hit and Not About Heroes, which takes a look at Britain’s greatest war poets.
If you’re looking for something other than drama, there’s plenty of shows, including former SAS commander turned author Chris Ryan, LDN Wrestling, stand-up comedian Micky Cochrane and murder squad detective Trevor Marriott, who will be back to give his insight into Jack the Ripper.
Music fans are never disappointed with a mix of the real thing and the best tributes around.
Joe McElderry is back in his hometown theatre ahead of the festive season – but fans will have to be quick because tickets have almost sold out.
Another much-loved Joe is back in the form of Joe Longthorne and Pal of My Cradle Day singer Ann Breen will also take to the stage this season.
Musical lovers can see Over the Rainbow – The Eva Cassidy Story, starring Bad Girls’ Nicole Faraday, South Shields Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s Jesus Christ Superstar, regulars Encore, as well as Tenors Unlimited, who will give an operatic take on well-known songs and the youngsters of Performers Stage School will perform the musical version of hit 1990s film Ghost.
Top tributes The Hollywood Bees, Nights on Broadway – The Bee Gees Story, Patsy Cline The Concert, Unforgettable, Rolling Back the Years and The Counterfeit Sixties will impress throughout autumn.
The venue is always keen to introduce youngsters to the theatre and children’s shows this season include the return of Santa’s Naughty Elf, in the run up to Christmas. This time Elfluent the Elf has broken the toy machine and needs the help of the boys and girls to save Christmas.
There’s also interactive show Babar the Little Elephant, a special junior edition of Albert Einstein: Relativitively Speaking (with an adult version in the evening) and Wendy the Witch and the Haunted Mansion, which runs this Halloween.
Finally, Ray - who was Tommy the Trumpeter for 25 years - will be returning to pantomime as Granny Hood in Little Red Riding Hood.
Having performed in panto for almost 40 years alongside Bob Stott as Dame Dotty, it will be Ray’s first outing as dame. Bob hung up his wig and frock two years ago after 37 years treading the panto boards, while Ray retired as Tommy last summer.
Ray added: “I have big boots to fill but I can’t wait to get back up on the stage and see all the regulars in the audience – I have really missed them.
“This is my first time as dame but this year will also mark another first which I am really looking forward to; Little Red Riding Hood will be the first time I have professionally performed with my daughter, Natasha who will be playing Red.”
For more information about the new season or to book tickets for any show call the box office on 454 1234, visit www.customshouse.co.uk or pick up the new What’s On brochure from the Customs House, your local library or the Tourist Information Centre.