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Preview: Beauty and the Beast at South Shields Customs House


There’s less than six weeks to go before the curtain goes up on this year’s panto at The Customs House – The Lambton Worm. But before a single note of the famous north east folk song has been sung, work has already started on next year’s show!

Beauty and the Beast will run from November 27, 2018, to January 5, 2019 – and tickets are on sale now. 

Ray Spencer, who co-writes the annual panto with Graeme Thompson, a former broadcaster and Pro-Vice Chancellor of The University of Sunderland, will return as Dame Bella and will also direct each performance. David John Hopper will also be back as Dame Bella’s hapless son, Arbuthnot.

Dame Bella Ballcock and Arbuthnot
(Ray Spencer and David John Hopper)
will be back for Beauty and the Beast in 2018.
Tickets are on sale now.
Ray said: “Originally written almost 300 years ago, Beauty and the Beast has had so many retellings in film, musicals and on stage. For the first time ever, it now gets the unique Customs House twist. Why was the Prince of Peterlee turned into the Beast of Cooksonville by the beautiful enchantress? And how was Arbuthnot turned into a bidet? It will all become clear as Dame Bella leads our band of merry players through our take on this well-known story. Get your tickets to this enchanting panto before the last petal falls.”

Beauty and the Beast is a traditional fairy tale written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and published in 1740. It has been adapted many times over the centuries, in literature, film, television and theatre, perhaps most famously by Disney, whose musical animated film in 1991 was followed by this year’s live-action re-make, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as Belle and the Beast.

More than 15,000 tickets have already been snapped up to see ‘The Little Panto with the Big Heart’ this year. The Lambton Worm runs from November 28, 2017, to January 6, 2018, with tickets priced from as little as £9.99.

For more information, contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or book online at

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