Seven shows not to miss this Christmas

Cast of Sunderland Empire's Panto Aladdin, Derek Moran, left, Terence Maynard, Alison Hammond, right, and Ian Good
Cast of Sunderland Empire's Panto Aladdin, Derek Moran, left, Terence Maynard, Alison Hammond, right, and Ian Good
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Starting to make plans for the festive season?

From boos to cheers, and everything inbetween, today we’re bringing you a round up of this year’s must-see Christmas shows on Wearside. So polish your genie lamps, grab your bloomers and get your tickets while you can!

Neil Armstrong in Cinderella at Durham Gala

Neil Armstrong in Cinderella at Durham Gala

1. Aladdin at Sunderland Empire, December 11 to January 3

This Morning presenter Alison Hammond and Coronation Street’s Terence Maynard, who played bad boy Tony, will take flight in Aladdin this year.

It promises three weeks of traditional panto fun when it runs at the High Street West theatre.

Terence says he’s looking forward to swapping the cobbles for panto boos when he steps into the Persian slippers of Abanazar.

A Christmas Carol at Arts Centre Washington

A Christmas Carol at Arts Centre Washington

“In order to shake off a character, it’s great to go from that to something completely different with panto,” he said. “When I tried on Abanazar’s costume for the first time I thought ‘this is great.’ I’ll still approach it with that same acting sincerity, but it’s great to have that interaction with the crowd.”

The show also features Derek Moran, from Channel 5’s Milkshake, as Wishee Washee. Meanwhile, juggling the role of director and Widow Twankey is Newcastle-born Ian Good. He’s well versed in panto, and has been working in the field for thirty years.

•Tickets are priced from £12.90 - £33.40 from Tel: 0844 871 3022 and www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland. There will be a British Sign Language signed performance on Wednesday, December 30 at 2pm and an autism-friendly relaxed performance on Thursday, December 17.

2. Rapunzel at Royalty Theatre, off Chester Road, Sunderland, December 10-20

Dick Whittington at Theatre Royal, Newcastle

Dick Whittington at Theatre Royal, Newcastle

For a youngster’s first trip to the theatre, Royalty Theatre’s annual pantomime always promises relaxed family fun.

This year’s production is a classic take on the fairytale heroine and her trailing tresses.

As well as the familiar characters, it features original sing-a-long songs.

There will be evening performances during the ten day-run, as well as matinees on December 12, 13, 19 and 20.

As an added bonus, children under two who do not require a seat go free.

•Tickets are £8 or £6.50 concessions from 0844 8700 887 (which includes a booking fee) and online at www.royaltytheatre.co.uk

3. Cinderella, Durham Gala Theatre, November 26 to January 3

This year’s panto at Durham Gala is the rags-to-riches story of Cinderella - oh yes it is!

Gala panto regulars Paul Hartley and Neil Armstrong will be tickling theatre-goers’ ribs. Paul is the hapless Buttons who causes all manner of mayhem in his attempts to help beautiful Cinderella to win the hand of dashing Prince Charming. Meanwhile, Neil, as the wicked baddie Dan Meanie, does his best to thwart their plans.

“I’m delighted to be writing and directing with Paul this year,” Neil said. “We had a great time writing the script and were laughing a lot as we did so. “Hopefully, the audience will too when they see the show.

“We’ve also got a few surprises lined up as we’ve tried to incorporate everything we love about the panto at Gala – but with some new twists.

“I’ve lost count of how many pantos I’ve actually appeared in, but Gala’s are special to me. The audiences have been brilliant to both Paul and I - hopefully, we can repay them with this year’s show.”

•Tickets are priced from £8 from Tel. 03000 266600 or www.galadurham.co.uk

4. A Christmas Carol, Arts Centre Washington, December 10, 1.30pm and 7.30pm

A new take on Dickens’ atmospheric ghost story of Christmas, brought to life for modern audiences with Box Clever’s characteristic cocktail of lively action, fun, music and audience participation.

As the actors bring to life Scrooge, as the hard and sharp as flint hero, the audience will join him on the journey that he is forced to make through his past, present and future, until laughter and goodness replace the ice in his heart.

•Tickets are from £8.50 for the matinee, or £6 online from Tel. 219 3455 or www.artscentrewashington.co.uk

The best of the rest

5. Dick Whittington, Theatre Royal Newcastle, November 24 to January 17

The Tyneside theatre will stage a mammoth seven week-run of the only pantomime believed to be based on a true story.

The theatre’s regular panto trio, Danny Adams, Clive Webb and Chris Hayward, have been getting audiences in the festive mood for over a decade. This year they’ll be joined by Emmerdale actress Charlie Hardwick, who will play Spirit of the Tyne.

Father and son duo Danny Adams and Clive Webb will play Dick Whittington and Councillor Fitzfenwick, respectively.

There actually was a Richard Whittington, and he did become Lord Mayor of London in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. The legend says that Whittington was a poor boy who travelled to London to seek his fame and fortune, but arrived penniless, and without a friend in the world - until he was introduced to a rather amazing cat. Newcastle audiences can expect a distinctly local twist on the traditional tale.

•Tickets are available from £12.50, (save 50p per ticket by booking online) from Tel. 08448 112121 or select your own seat and book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk

6. Alice in Wonderland, Customs House, South Shields, December 1 to January 9

The theatre’s tag line is “little panto with the big heart” and this year they’ll be feeling the love with Alice in Wonderland.

It coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Lewis Carroll classic.

•Tickets are priced from £9 from Tel. 454 1234 or e. If you’re over 50, there will be a child free performance on December 17 at 2pm.

There will be a signed performance on December 30 at 7pm and an autism-friendly relaxed performance on January 3 at 4.30pm.

7. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Northern Stage, Haymarket, Newcastle, November 28 to January 2

Join Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion this Christmas for a brand new re-twisted production of the classic children’s story.

This show is aimed at youngsters aged seven and over, and their families.

•Tickets are £12 for children and from £14.50 for adults from Tel. 230 5151 or www.northernstage.co.uk.