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Preview: Little Red Riding Hood at South Shields Customs House

Panto has the Axe Factor

Little Red Riding Hood
South Shields Customs House
Tuesday 2nd December 2014 to Saturday 10th January 2015

This year’s Customs House panto has the axe-factor. For the first time in the venue’s history Little Red Riding Hood will be the festive offering. Leading the cast through the run from December 2 to January 10 will be panto legend and the Mill Dam venue’s Executive Director Ray Spencer as dame Granny Hood.  It seems panto fans are seeing red with more than 15,000 tickets already being snapped up. 

Ray, who’s starred in pantomimes in South Tyneside for almost 40 years, said: “Panto is in my blood and after a year out due to a knee injury I can’t wait to get back up on our stage and perform.   It’s an exciting year – it’s the first time we have performed Little Red Riding Hood and we have created a brilliant family show.”

The show will mark several firsts.  Ray’s daughter Natasha Haws will make her debut in a leading pantomime role at The Customs House as Red, long-time principal boy Steven Lee Hamilton will swap his smile for a sneer when he is unveiled as baddie Wolfgang and three new faces will be joining The Customs House panto family.

Ray, who also directs and co-writes the show with Graeme Thompson, added: “I can’t wait to get started and more importantly for the audiences to come in and see what we’ve created for them in this year’s ‘little panto with the big heart’.  This year our designers Paul Shriek and Matt Fox have outdone themselves – the costumes are stunning and the sets are going to be just as amazing.”

Steven, 30, from South Shields, said: “I loved playing the principal boy and now I can’t wait to get my teeth into this new role.”  Pairing up with Steven’s ‘Big Bad Wolf’ will be Jamie Birkett as Bracken the Witch.  The West End star and I’d Do Anything finalist from Cumbria joined the cast last year as Cinderella’s stepmother and is looking forward to getting back on The Customs House stage.  She said: “Once you’re in the panto family it just stays with you, I’m so excited to be back!” 

Craig Richardson, one of last year’s Ugly Sisters, will play Timber and certainly has big boots to fill when he takes on the funny role traditionally filled by Ray’s alter-ego Tommy, while fellow ‘Ugly’ Stephen Sullivan will attempt to woo Granny Hood in his first none-dame pantomime role, Mr Fracker.

Also back from last year’s cast is the loveable Luke Maddison who will play one of the Three Pigs, Savaloy. His fellow pigs will be played by panto newcomers but Customs House regulars Gareth Hunter (Bratwurst) and Kylie Ann Ford (Chorizo).  Also making his panto debut will be Jamie Brown as Prince Chop-a-lot. Jamie impressed earlier this year in Catherine Cookson’s Fifteen Streets, helping to land him the role.

No Customs House pantomime would be complete without the dancing babes. South Tyneside Dance Workshop – where Natasha first debuted in the pantomime – will once again be adding to the glitz and glamour.


Little Red Riding Hood, sponsored by Hays Travel, is at The Customs House from December 2 to January 10.
Tickets, priced from £9, are available from the box office on 0191 454 1234 or visit


Natasha Haws: Red
Ray Spencer: Granny Hood
Steven Lee Hamilton: Wolfgang
Jamie Birkett: Bracken
Jamie Brown: Prince Chop-a-lot
Craig Richardson: Timber
Stephen Sullivan: Mr Fracker
Luke Maddison: Savaloy
Gareth Hunter: Bratwurst
Kylie Ann Ford: Chorizo

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