‘Tis the season for panto

Robin Hood & The Babes in the Wood at the Gala Theatre, Durham, from left, Sheriff of Nottingham Neil Armstrong, Robin Hood Gareth Leighton and Maid Marion Emma Devlin.
Robin Hood & The Babes in the Wood at the Gala Theatre, Durham, from left, Sheriff of Nottingham Neil Armstrong, Robin Hood Gareth Leighton and Maid Marion Emma Devlin.
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Katy Wheeler raises the curtain on the pantos at the region’s stages this Christmas

* Robin Hood & The Babes in the Wood at Durham Gala

Gala Theatre is promising traditional pantomime fun this Christmas with its version of Robin Hood & The Babes in the Wood.

Panto baddie Neil Armstrong returns to Gala as the scheming Sheriff of Nottingham, while Paul Hartley is back in the larger-than-life role of Robin’s right hand man, Will Scarlett.

Alongside these familiar faces, the theatre will be welcoming Alan French, who makes his Gala debut as the lovable Nurse Nellie.

The show runs from tonight until January 4. Tickets are priced from £6.50 from Tel. 03000 266600.

* Cinderella at Sunderland Empire

The Empire brings the classic rags-to-riches tale of Cinderella to the stage this festive season.

ITV’s Benidorm actress, regular Loose Women panellist and Coronation Street legend Sherrie Hewson, looks set to sparkle in her role as the Fairy Godmother, showing that dreams really do come true.

She will be joined on stage by fellow soap veteran, former Brookside actor Dean Sullivan, who plays Baron Hardup.

Cinderella will be played by Amy Thompson, a familiar face on Channel 5’s Milkshake. Unsung hero Buttons will be played by Jamie Rickers from CITV and Nickelodeon.

Shetland ponies will also be joining the cast on stage for the show which runs from December 13 until January 5.

Tickets priced £11.90-£32.40 and are available from Tel. 0844 871 3022.

* Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Royalty Theatre, Sunderland

Wearside’s oldest community theatre will be breathing new life into classic tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Penned by Dave and Tim Jasper, the fairytale has been given a new twist.

With an original script and music played by live band Unplugged, this family show features Snow White whose beauty is desperately sought by the wicked Queen Flash, as well as the antics of buffoons Pott and Kettle who do their best to make a mess of everything.

The show runs at the theatre, off Chester Road, from December 12 to December 22.

Tickets are £8 from Tel. 0844 8700 887.

* Jack and the Beanstalk at Theatre Royal, Newcastle

Billed as “The Giant Pantomime Spectacular”, this show features local favourites Clive Webb (Farmer Trot), Danny Adams (Jack) and Chris Hayward (Dame Rita Trot).

Clive Webb and Danny Adams have topped the bill at the Theatre Royal pantomime for the last eight years, helping the theatre’s panto to be one of the fastest selling in the country.

The traditional elements of family pantomime combine with visual effects, including a 3D enchanted forest and a special effects journey through the giant’s castle.

The show opened on Tuesday and is running until January 18. Tickets are available from £11 from Tel. 08448 112121.

* Cinderella at Arts Centre Washington

Talented local troupe Washington Theatre Group present their pantomime Cinderella, in the new year.

Shows will run on Fridays and Saturdays from January 10 until January 25 and will feature a mixture of matinee and evening performances.

Tickets are £4 from Tel. 219 3455.

* Cinderella at The Customs House, South Shields

Taking up the roles of the dastardly ugly sisters in this year’s production are panto favourites Craig Richardson and Stephen Sullivan.

The duo have been treading the boards in South Shields for a number of years and are no strangers to the Customs House stage – both previously played smaller parts in the annual panto, but are now graduating to the spotlight.

West End starlet Jamie Birkett, 27. from Cumbria, will take on the scary step-mother role.

Back by popular demand will be The Customs House very own Prince Charming, Steven Lee Hamilton.

Designer Paul Shriek will also be once again be casting a spell over the production with new costumes and sets.

Cinderella opens tonight and runs until January 5. Tickets start from £8 from Tel. 454 1234.