News Column

Our festive guide to panto-tastic fun

December 8, 2013


IT'S time for your festive round-up - oh, yes it is! - and, as BARBARA HODGSON discovers, there are some seasonal crackers this year around the region, from glossy soap star affairs to home-spun traditional favourites, and there's plenty for grown-ups too. Here's the Sunday Sun's pick of the pantos, starting in alphabetical order...

Alnwick Playhouse: Snowdome, December 20-21 and January 4, 01665 510785/ A wintry, interactive theatre experience by PuppetShip for children aged up to 2 (10am show) or 3- 4 (noon and 2pm shows) all inside a beautiful snowdome.

Arc, Stockton: Three Little Pigs, December 10-24, 01642 525 199/ A puppet spin on the classic tale for age 2- plus courtesy of Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company.

Billingham Forum Theatre: Snow White, until-January 5, 01642 552663/www.forumtheatrebillingham. Veteran comic Jimmy Cricket and Emmerdale's Kurtis Stacey leads this star-studded take on the fairytale favourite.

Customs House, South Shields: Cinderella, until January 5, 0191 454 1234/www.customshouse. Craig Richardson and Stephen Sullivan as the Ugly Sisters are joined by West End starlet Jamie Birkett in the role of the scary stepmother. The theatre's executive director Ray Spencer may not be in it this year but he's co-written the script and directs.

Darlington Civic Theatre: Aladdin, until January 12, 01325 486 555/www.darlington. The Chuckle Brothers, no less, recreate the traditional panto helped by that magic lamp and a flying carpet.

Empire Theatre, Consett: Snow White, until December 31, 01207 218 171 Local panto favourite Leah Bellis joined by singer Lorraine Crosby and a body popping, hip hopping little woodmen from the forest.

Gala Theatre, Durham: Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, until January 4, 0191 332 4041/ This home-grown show has Neil Armstrong as the Sheriff of Nottingham who meets his match Robin Hood and those merry men.

The Maltings, Berwick: Cinderella, December 16-31, 01289 330 999/ www.maltingsberwick. There are two dames here and they're both having a ball amongst sparkling sets and magical fun.

Middlesbrough Theatre: Sleeping Beauty, until January 5, 01642 815 181/www. Allo Allo stars Kim Hartman and Vicki Michelle lead the cast as the Wicked Fairy and Lilac Fairy so expect lots of laughs Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre: Sleeping Beauty, until December 30, 0844 493 9999/ The Newcastle Panto Ltd show has Charlie Richmond as Numpty Norman, Phillippa Wilson as evil fairy Carabosse, Maxie Peters as Dame Nora, Glen Joseph as The Prince and presenter and comic Sue Sweeney as Queenie Sweeney.

Northern Stage: Dark Woods, Deep Snow: A Grimm Tale for Christmas, until December 28, 0191 230 5151/www.northernstage. The in-house story features a rag-tag band of superheroic outcasts led by The Ginge, The Geordie and The Geek local star. Paul Charlon. It's recommended for 7+.

Tallest Tales from the Furthest Forest, until January 4. A second show, this one for under-sixes is a magical affair set in a magical forest.

Northumberland Touring Theatre Company: Once upon and Time in the North, until December 28, various venues, Quirky, scary, romantic and brave stories from Northumbrian folklore including: The Cauld Lad of Hylton Castlel; The Laidley Worm of Bamburgh; My 'Ainsel; and The Men of Lorbottle will be told through music, dance and puppets.

The People's Theatre, Newcastle: Peter Pan, until December 15, 0191 265 5020/ Join join Peter, Wendy and the Lost Boys (and scary Captain Hook of course) in Philip Meeks' new adaptation of JM Barrie's evergreen children's classic. Phoenix Theatre, Blyth: Puss In Boots, until December 15, 01670 367 228/ story of Jack and his cat are caught up in a plot which sees them trying to save a village from a terrifying Ogre and rescue the Princess.

The Playhouse Whitley Bay: Peter Pan, December 17 to January 5, 0844 248 1588/ Ex-Neighbour Mark Little (Captain Hook), CBeebies stalwart Sarah-Jane Honeywell (Peter) and Playhouse favourite Steve Walls (Smee) combine their talents to tell the story of the boy who never grew.

The Queen's Hall, Hexham: Treasure Island, December 11 to 28, 01434 652 477/ Oddsocks Productions return with a family adventure featuring live music, hilarious characters and cracking fight scenes Sands Centre, Carlisle: Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs, December 13-31, 01228 633766/ Maureen Nolan stars as the Wicked Queen, with Tracy Beaker's Ben Hanson as Huntsman and CFM Radio's Robbie Dee as Muddles the madcap Jester in the rags to riches tale.

South Shields Library Theatre: Santa's Naughty Elf and the Magical Snow Adventure, December 14-24, Prince George Square, 0191 454 1234/ A magical snowflake, a talking snowman and a naughty elf - Elfluent the Elf to be exact - is back in this treat for under-sevens.

Sunderland Empire: Cinderella, December 13-January 5, 0844 871 3022/ Leading the cast are Benidorm actress, Loose Woman and now Fairy Godmother Sherrie Hewson and Brookside favourite Dean Sullivan as Baron Hardup while Cinders is played by Channel 5 Milkshake presenter Amy Thompson and CITV's Jamie Rickers is Buttons.

Theatre Royal, Newcastle: Jack and the Beanstalk, until January 18, 08448 11 21 21 or Regulars Clive Webb (Farmer Trot), Danny Adams (Jack) and Chris Hayward (Dame Rita Trot) return for more mad antics alongside special 3D effects. Newcastle actress Vicky Hall, West End star Rosie Ash and Daisy Wood-Davies join the fun.

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