Theatre and businesses bring panto fun to 200 people

More than 200 people in Sunderland have had a VIP theatre experience thanks to a collaboration between the Sunderland Empire Theatre, Gentoo Group and energy company Equans.

Monday, 20th December 2021, 1:05 pm

The lucky Gentoo tenants were invited to the theatre’a pantomime as part of an initiative in Sunderland, to spread some festive cheer to families across the city who may have not otherwise have been able to attend.

Guests were welcomed to the Empire by Santa Claus, who is a good friend Gentoo’s chief executive officer Nigel Wilson. He surprised the children with a gift before the show.

Complimentary snacks were then provided before the young theatre-goers were shown to their premium seats, to enjoy this year’s acclaimed pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, starring Su Pollard, Miss Rory and Tom Whalley.

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From left: Susie Thompson, executive director of housing at Gentoo, two young pantomime goers and Santa Claus, a good friend of Nigel Wilson, CEO of Gentoo with the Snow White and Seven Dwarfs cast in the background including Miss Rory, Su Pollard and Tom Whalley.

It was one of a number of events organised by Gentoo this year. They say they are trying to help ensure no family goes without this Christmas. The housing association also has an annual secret Santa gift appeal and Christmas dinner deliveries.

Marie Nixon, theatre director at the Sunderland Empire, said: “It was a really special experience for us here at Sunderland Empire to collaborate with Gentoo to welcome so many wonderful local families to our theatre for panto season, many for the first time.

“Collaboration is key when it comes to developing local projects and business opportunities and we are immensely proud to support initiatives that directly impact and support the surrounding community.

“The power of theatre is a truly magical way to bring people together and bring joy, particularly over the festive season.

Marie Nixon, theatre director at the Sunderland Empire Theatre.

“We are so excited to work with Gentoo again soon to help bring delight to even more families across Sunderland.”

Nigel Wilson said: “Christmas is a time for giving, and I am delighted we have been able to create some magical experiences for tenants this Christmas with the help of Sunderland Empire Theatre and Equans.

“We have a thriving arts and culture scene here in Sunderland, and it’s fantastic to introduce young people to this.

"Many people have special memories of going to the pantomime at Christmas and we know this particular experience will stay with our tenants for many years to come.”

The pantomime runs until Sunday, January 2.

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