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News: Signing Sheep Cutlet Brings Panto Award BAA-ck Home

Signing Sheep Cutlet Brings Panto Award BAA-ck Home

Actress Charlie Raine has triumphed at The Great British Pantomime Awards for her ewe-nique performance as a signing sheep.

The 26-year-old, from Sunderland, who played Cutlet in last year’s production ofBeauty and the Beast at The Customs House, won Best Pantomime Animal for her performance at the national awards, held in London on Sunday evening.  Charlie, who is hearing impaired, brought her sign language skills to the role, which impressed the awards judges, who took in hundreds of professional shows at theatres up and down the country before shortlisting cast and crew in 27 categories.

The Customs House, in South Shields, also had finalists in the Best Comic (Davey Hopper) and Best Staging and Set (Fox and Shriek) categories.

Charlie, who experienced hearing loss from a young age and now mainly functions as a lip reader, said: “Last night was amazing. I absolutely adored getting glammed up and being reunited with my panto family. It was an honour to be representing The Customs House at such a prestigious event and to be surrounded by so many talented people who all love and appreciate the pantomime industry.  I just wanted to thank all the lovely people who support The Customs House panto and who have made me feel so welcome.  Not only am I proud to win this award for the North East but also for the deaf community. Thank you for all your kind comments and ongoing support.”

Charlie trained at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in London, gaining a masters in Theatre for Young Audiences, having graduated from Northumbria University with a first class degree in drama.  She has since toured the UK with various family shows, including Fans (The Six Twenty – Northern Stage and Live Theatre), Treasure Island (LP Creatives) and In The Night Garden Live (Minor Entertainment).

She is also a member of London gospel choir Enchorus and has worked as a residential backing singer for The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK.  A highlight of her career so far has been performing in Richard Thomas’ Wrong Sings for Christmas at National Theatre, directed by Evan Ensign.

In 2017, she set up a YouTube channel – - to raise deaf awareness and help break down communication barriers, featuring British Sign Language (BSL) tutorials and pop song covers.   She is currently playing Ben in the UK tour of You’ve Got Dragons (Taking Flight Theatre).

The Great British Pantomime Awards, now in their third year, recognise the best of this British theatrical institution and aims to ensure that its traditions continue to be held in the highest esteem in the eyes of the public and theatre industry.  This year’s winners were announced in a ceremony at the New Wimbledon Theatre, hosted by panto legend Christopher Biggins.

Ray Spencer, Executive Director of The Customs House, who co-writes, directs and stars in the annual panto, said: “It was star-studded event and we were delighted that Charlie was recognised for her unique signing sheep.  It was the first award of the night and Charlie made a fantastic acceptance speech, which she signed to the gathered audience, who were very warm in their support for her.”

This year’s panto is Snow White and tickets are on sale now, priced from £9.99. Contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or visit

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