It’s panto time - oh yes it is!

Stars from Aladdin at the Customs House, South Shields.
Stars from Aladdin at the Customs House, South Shields.
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IT’S panto season and the Sunderland Echo’s very own Cinderella, entertainments editor Katy Wheeler, takes a look at what’s on in North East theatres.

Sinbad the Sailor, Royalty Theatre, Sunderland, December 8-18

LEGALLY BLONDE,             ,     Director - Jerry Mitchell, Costume Designer - Gregg Barnes, Scenic Designer - David Rockwell, Lighting - Paul Miller, Liverpool, 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/

LEGALLY BLONDE, , Director - Jerry Mitchell, Costume Designer - Gregg Barnes, Scenic Designer - David Rockwell, Lighting - Paul Miller, Liverpool, 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/

SUNDERLAND’S only full-scale pantomime this year will be Sinbad The Sailor.

An Arabian Night pantomime adventure, Sinbad returns after a 10-year absence from the Royalty Theatre, the city’s oldest community theatre.

Sinbad has lowly roots but aspires to join the royal ranks. The regal Ahmed also has a “raisin d’etre” and wants to woo the royal princess and brings with him the Kalander Stone which leads to lots of trouble.

The villains of the East – Kaliban, Ali Baba (without his 40 thieves) and Genius – try to steal this fantastic diamond and if they succeed it will be 12 months of catastrophe for the city of Baghdad. 

There will be 12 performances of this pantomime with evening and matinee times.

* Tickets are £6.50/£7.50 and are available from the Tourist Information Centre, located in the Central Library, Sunderland, or call 553 2000.

Legally Blonde, Sunderland Empire, December 6-31

STARS Matthew Kelly and Liz McClarnon are looking forward to a Wearside wonderland this Christmas.

Former Stars in their Eyes host Matthew and ex-Atomic Kitten singer, Liz, will be spending the festive period in the city as they tread the boards in Legally Blonde.

Although there was some controversy caused when it was announced that the Empire would not host a panto for the second year running, sales are strong for this musical version of the Hollywood blockbuster of the same name which starred Reece Witherspoon.

Winner of seven major awards – including the coveted Best Musical 2011 in the Olivier Awards – this all-singing, all-dancing romantic comedy is about knowing who you are and showing what you’ve got.

Elle Woods (played by Faye Brookes) can handle anything. So when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her she decides to follow him to Harvard Law School and win him back.

For tickets, priced £17.50-£49.50, call 0844 871 3022 or click here.

Aladdin, Customs House, South Shields, November 30-January 7

ALL the madness, mayhem and chaos will once again be led at the Customs House by panto legends Ray Spencer and Bob Stott, who will play Tommy Wishy-Washy and Widow Dotty Twanky.

It is the duo’s 36th year in pantomime – a career which started with Aladdin.

They will be joined by a cast who are no strangers to the South Shields venue’s Christmas show.

Taking on the title role of Aladdin will be Steven Lee Hamilton, who last appeared in the title role in 2004’s Dick Whittington.

Alice Brown returns following her hugely successful debut as The Fairy Godmother last year to take on the role of Princess Amira.

Afnan Iftikhar, who has for the last two years has been in the role of leading man returns, but will take on the role of Genie this time around.

Panto regulars Peter Darrant and Graham Overton make welcome returns as the evil Abanazar and Sultan Sanddancer

* Tickets start from £8 and can be purchased by calling the Box Office on 454 1234 or by clicking here

Shhh ... A Christmas Story, Northern Stage, Newcastle, until January 14

THIS is a fun, imaginative and heart-warming Christmassy tale about a young girl called Boo, who goes on an exciting adventure inside a magic library where books come to life.

Writer Susan Mulholland has tried to capture the spirit of A Christmas Carol, but for a younger audience (under six years old).

Boo’s journey starts on Christmas Eve when she excitedly accompanies her father to his place of work, a grand old library.

When she discovers a page-munching bookworm that gets her father into trouble, Boo sets out on a journey to bring the villain to justice.

* Tickets are priced £12, or £9 for a child’s ticket. Contact the box office on 230 5151 or book online here.

Hansel and Gretel, Arts Centre Washington, Fatfield, December 13-17

THIS show looks set to be an enchanting alternative to a panto – oh yes it does.

Brought to life by Northumberland Theatre Company, this Christmas play is a new telling of an old tale.

Hansel and Gretel are starving, living in a house where there’s nothing to eat.  

However, they soon find themselves living in a house where everything is to eat (including the house itself) but they themselves are the main thing on the menu.

* Tickets are £10 / £8.50 (conc) or £35 for a family ticket (two adults and two children) and are available from the box office on 219 3455 or online by clicking here.

Jack and the Beanstalk, Durham Gala, December 1-January 7

FEE-fi-fo-fum, the Gala theatre is promising pantomime fun.

The Durham City venue will be drawing the crowds this Christmas with festive classic Jack and the Beanstalk, its fourth in-house pantomime written and directed by Simon Stallworthy.

Featuring the booming voice of Brian Blessed and favourites from previous productions, the show will run throughout the festive period.

Simon said: “The Gala’s annual pantomime is recognised as one of the finest in the region, featuring a cast of some of the region’s best actors, sumptuous costumes and sets, dazzling dance routines and riotous comedy.

“Last year, more than 28,000 people came along and joined in the fun and this year tickets are already selling faster then ever.”

Cast members include duo Paul Hartley and Jane Deane as Jack and his sidekick Jill, Neil Armstrong as Fleshcreep, Mark Stratton as Baron D’Oolally, Jane Hollman as Fairy Hazbean and Donald McBride as Dame Shrivell.

* For more information or to book tickets, visit the Gala Theatre box office, call 332 4041 or click here.

Sleeping Beauty, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, until January 21

THIS fun-filled production is the fastest selling pantomime in the venue’s history.

Sleeping Beauty – The Pantomime of Your Dreams went on sale at the beginning of November last year to meet the high demand for tickets, and already more than 65,000 tickets have been sold (3,000 more than at the same time last year).

Sales in excess of £1 million were also reached three weeks earlier than in 2010.  

Multi-award-winning pantomime legends Danny Adams and Clive Webb are back again playing Muddles and The King respectively, supported by the North East’s most famous Dame, Chris Hayward, in his 27th panto appearance, this time as The Queen.

It will also be the first pantomime to be shown in the theatre’s multi-million pound restored auditorium.

* Tickets are priced at £10.50-£27.50 and can be purchased from 08448 11 21 21, or click here to select your own seat and book online.

Aladdin, Whitley Bay Playhouse, December 13-January 2

NORTH East comic Steve Walls stars as Wishee Washee in this “genie-us” production.

This performance will mark Steve’s 16th year as principal comic in pantomime and he promises it will be his best yet.

Disney’s Art Attack presenter Jassa Ahluwalia will star as the mischievous Aladdin alongside BBC’s So You Think You Can Dance finalist Kirsty Swain as Princess Jasmine.

The eccentric dame of the pantomime, Widow Twankey, is played by BBC Radio Presenter Paul Harris.

* Tickets are priced £7-£14.50. To book, call 0844 277 2771 or book online here.