South Shields panto performer lands Disney acting job

Davey Hopper, who has played the well-loved character Arbuthnot for the past eight years, is embarking on a brand-new adventure at Disneyland Paris.

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Davey Hopper, who is well known in South Tyneside for his pantomime character Arbuthnot, has landed an incredible job with Disney.

In an interview with Cultured. North East, 29-year-old Hopper revealed he will be waving goodbye to his character, which he regularly performs as in The Customs House pantomime productions, before taking on a new character role at Disneyland Paris.

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In the exclusive interview, Davey shared that he will be playing the role of Pumbaa from Disney’s The Lion King. He said: “I get giddy every time I say it… it’s a dream come true.”

He continued: “Lion King has always been my favourite Disney film. The music is so iconic – I find it hard to picture myself not getting emotional when I sing that song (Hakuna Matata) for the first time.”

Before leaving for his Disney adventure though, Hopper will be taking to The Customs House stage for one final time, in a summer pantomime production.

The South Shields theatre venue announced that they would be showcasing a summer pantomime, which is a production of the well-known and loved fairytale Cinderella, in what will be Davey Hopper’s final show with The Customs House.

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The production, which has been written by The Customs House director Ray Spencer MBE as well as Graeme Thompson, will kick off on Friday, August 4 and run until Saturday, August 12.

Davey Hopper will perform a version of his long-running character, alongside Glen Richard Townsend who will play Den-Dini, Christina Berriman Dawson as Stepmother, Rebekah Summerhill as Cinderella, Jess Brady as Fairy Godmother, Dale Jewitt as Di, David McCarthy as Coni and Andy Borthwick as Prince Charming.

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Hopper’s final performance is sure to be an emotional moment, as he leaves the character he has played for the past eight years behind.

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Hopper said: “I’ve loved every second of being on The Customs House stage alongside Ray Spencer. The Customs House pantomime was what made me want to do pantomime and I’ve never clicked on stage and crafted a double act as much as I have with Ray.

“To me, The Customs House panto was the be all and end all when I started out. Even four years ago I would have said I’d never leave.

“The sense of community in that place is incredible and Ray has offered us training like no other. I’ve never learned so much from one place and certainly learned more at the theatre than from drama school.

“It’s testament to how much I’ve learned and developed that I now feel ready for this move… and working for the biggest entertainment company in the world has got to be on your bucket list when you’re in this game.”

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Hopper is well-known in South Tyneside’s entertainment scene for more than his pantomime character, as he also performs in the cover band, Two Metres Apart, regularly hosts pub quizzes, and has recently hosted children’s events at the amphitheatre in South Shields, meaning he will be dearly missed as he embarks on his new career.

It has been announced that Glen Richard Townsend, who regularly performs as Cousin Dennis at The Customs House, will be stepping up to fill Hopper’s shoes.

Davey Hopper as ArbuthnotDavey Hopper as Arbuthnot
Davey Hopper as Arbuthnot

Ray Spencer, who has mentored Hopper through his theatre career said: “Everyone at The Customs House is thrilled and delighted to see Davey join the land that is Disney. We will miss him terribly, but we are so lucky to have Cousin Dennis join our Customs House panto family.”