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Record numbers attended the award-winning Customs House panto.

Eleanor Chaganis, Luke Maddison, David John Hopper
and Gareth Hunter in Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the Beanstalk completed a run of 69 performances at the popular South Shields venue last weekend and sold more than 27,000 tickets - 2,000 more than 2015/2016 panto Alice in Wonderland. Jack and the Beanstalk was also awarded the Most Entertaining Pantomime accolade in the North East Theatre Guide Best of 2016 guide (LINK).

The show was co-written by Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer MBE, who also starred in and directed the panto. Long-time collaborator Graeme Thompson, Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Sunderland, was Ray’s co-writer.

“It’s hugely gratifying and humbling to think so many people chose to make our little panto with the big heart to be part of their festive celebrations,” said Ray.

RECORD BREAKERS … David John Hopper (left) as
Arbuthnot and Ray Spencer as Dame Trott
“We never take our audience for granted and this year’s cast worked especially hard to ensure those who put their trust in us were rewarded with a couple of hours of pure fun. I’d like to thank my fellow cast members, the wider Customs House team, our generous sponsors, and our audiences for making Jack and the Beanstalk a very special and memorable show.”

Ray played Dame Trott, while Luke Madison played Jack and newcomer David John Hopper played the Dame’s other son Arbuthnot. Steve Lee Hamilton played the evil Fleshcreep, Natasha Haws was the principal girl Eloise, Gareth Hunter played her dad the Mayor and Eleanor Chaganis was the Fairy.

For the seventh consecutive year, the show’s set and costumes were designed by Paul Shriek and Matt Fox.

Luke Maddison as Jack
in Jack and the Beanstalk
Also celebrating record numbers was The Customs House’s panto for under-sevens, Santa’s Naughty Elf. The show, written, directed and starring Wayne Miller, was seen by more than 4,500 people.
Ray is already planning this year’s panto, The Lambton Worm: “It’s the 150th anniversary of the famous song, which was actually written for a panto. It was also the first panto performed here at The Customs House, so the time was right for us to do it again.

“The Lambton Worm legend is a great story and one that lends itself to a panto. I’m very grateful to Hays Travel, who very generously have once again agreed to be our main sponsor.”

More than 3,000 tickets have already been sold for the show, which will start on November 28. Tickets are available from the box office on 0191 454 1234 or by logging on to The Customs House’s new website at

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