This year sees The 150th anniversary of The Customs House and also the 150th birthday of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. So what else would The Customs House Team choose as this years Panto? Not an obvious choice BUT a familiar story for audiences both young and old.
Now then if you (like us) have been to The Panto here before you will know its a familiar format, introduction to the characters, a bit of song and dance, a bit slapstick, some cheesy jokes and witty one liners, some drama, a happy ending and the big finale. This year is much the same, there's lots of fun with strong musical performances by The Knave of Hearts (Afnan Iftikar) and The Queen of Hearts (Anne Marie Owens) a bit of magic, and lovely dance performances from South Tyneside Dance Workshop
The kids loved The White Rabbit (Luke Maddison) and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee (Craig Richardson and Gareth Hunter) and the audience loved panto regular Steven Lee Hamilton as the Mad Hatter, Ray Spencer in a Princess Leia costume had the house in stitches accompany that with some rather slim fitting storm trooper outfits, yoda and a giant pizza the audience were well set up for some good old fashioned 'he's behind you' 'oh yes we did' fun.
The most obvious thing about this panto for me is how much the audience love it. Ray Spencer is welcomed with heartfelt warmth when he makes his first appearance and he can do no wrong for the audience. You know when you go to a local amateur panto and the sets are wobbly and the costumes are a bit worse for wear but the audience loves it so much that none of that matters and you come out feeling happy and uplifted? Well that's the warmth you feel at The Customs House at Panto time. Add that to absolutely fantastic set design and outstanding lavish costumes you have a recipe for success. It's really is the Panto with the big heart, all the warmth and joy of a local show with the benefit of and amazing professional cast, super sets and gorgeous costumes!
You should take yourself along if you can get tickets and let yourself be carried away with the delight of the audience and I bet even the most hardened heart will be melted and join in.
Just as a little request though, switch your phone off, just for these two hours, look up and enjoy every moment, don't spoil it for your fellow audience members and for the cast by checking Facebook in view of everyone!