Customs House reveals 2018 pantomime – before theatre’s 2017 Christmas show has even begun

Dame Bella Ballcock and Arbuthnot (Ray Spencer and David John Hopper) will be back for Beauty and the Beast in 2018.
Dame Bella Ballcock and Arbuthnot (Ray Spencer and David John Hopper) will be back for Beauty and the Beast in 2018.

Work has already started on next year’s traditional panto in South Tyneside - oh yes, it has!

With less than six weeks to go before this year’s extravaganza starts at the Customs House, South Shields, bosses at the theatre have already decided on the 2018 offering.

More than 15,000 tickets have been sold for The Lambton Worm, which will begin its run at the Mill Dam venue on Tuesday, November 28.

Before a single note of the famous North East folk song has even been sung, though, attentions have already started to turn to next year’s show - Beauty and the Beast.

It will be on at the Customs House from November 27, 2018 to January 5, 2019 - with tickets on sale now.

Ray Spencer, who co-writes the annual panto with Graeme Thompson, a former broadcaster and pro-vice chancellor of the University of Sunderland, will return as Dame Bella and will also direct each performance.

David John Hopper will also be back as Dame Bella’s hapless son, Arbuthnot.

Ray said: “Originally written almost 300 years ago, Beauty and the Beast has had so many retellings in film, musicals and on stage.

“For the first time ever, it now gets the unique Customs House twist. Why was the Prince of Peterlee turned into the Beast of Cooksonville by the beautiful enchantress? And how was Arbuthnot turned into a bidet? It will all become clear as Dame Bella leads our band of merry players through our take on this well-known story. Get your tickets to this enchanting panto before the last petal falls.”

Beauty and the Beast is a traditional fairytale, which was first published in 1740, and has since been adapted in literature, film, TV and theatre, perhaps most famously by Disney.

The Customs House’s annual ‘little panto with the big heart’ always proves to be popular, and although ticket sales have gone very well for this year’s event, some are still available.

The Lambton Worm runs from November 28 until January 6, 2018, with tickets priced from £9.99.

For more information, call 0191 454 1234 or visit