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Preview: Arbuthnot and Dame Bella’s Christmas at South Shields Customs House


Panto Favourites Dame Bella and Arbuthnot Return in new Christmas Adventure


Arbuthnot and Dame Bella’s Christmas

South Shields Customs House

Friday 11th – Thursday 24th December 2020


The Customs House is delighted to announce they will put on a festive show this year. Arbuthnot and Dame Bella’s Christmas Adventure will have a limited run at the arts centre in  South Shields in December.

They’re back! Dame Bella (Ray Spencer) and Arbuthnot (Davey Hopper)

The show, which will also be filmed so families can watch again and again from home, will star Ray Spencer as Dame Bella and Davey Hopper as Bella’s hapless son Arbuthnot as well as a whole host of festive characters including the big man in red himself.

Back in August, it was announced that this year’s pantomime Rapunzel would be postponed at The Customs House until 2021. Ray, who as well as Dame is also The Customs House’s Executive Director, said at the time that the venue would try to put on some sort of Christmas show – even if it was at the 11th hour.

Ray said: “We are delighted that we can announce to you that we will present a Christmas show at The Customs House this year. Clearly the safety of our customers, staff and performers remain our paramount concern. We can’t do a lavish production this year, as we simply can’t recoup the investment with less shows and restricted audience numbers.  The show will be significantly different from our usual offer. There will be no schools’ performances. There will be no juvenile dancers from South Tyneside Dance Workshop. There will be no interval and the show will last approximately 75mins. It will run for less than two weeks with just 25 performances.

“However, what there will be is an entirely original score and script written by Davey Hopper and Jen Stevens, a joyous show with wonderful music which contains many of the usual elements of pantomime. Importantly, because of the limited run and reduced ticket capacity there will only be 10% of the usual number of tickets available.

“Tickets are being limited to just 6 per booking. I realise this will be hugely disappointing to many people because the big family outing to pantomime is very much part of families' Christmas traditions. However, we simply can’t ignore government guidelines and local public health advice.

“We anticipate a huge demand and know unfortunately there will be many disappointed families because of the numbers of tickets available. However, we will be producing a DVD of the show for those families who are unable to obtain tickets.”

Written by Davey Hopper & Jen Stevens, Arbuthnot & Dame Bella’s Christmas Adventure is an original Christmas musical adventure for families.

Two brothers, Santa Claus, and his brother Jack Frost, have gone their different ways. One is kind and caring, the other filled with jealously.

But on discovering one child, in Cooksonville, no longer believes in Santa, Frost sees his chance to freeze Santa and stop Christmas.

Can Arbuthnot persuade his cousin Dennis to believe? Can Roxy the Reindeer, Jerry the Snowman and Grace the Elf navigate the North Pole, And... Will Dame Bella get her stockings filled this Christmas?

Davey, is also directing the show, said: “We are all really excited to show you this brand-new musical!  It’s still got all the bits of panto you love. With one of the best casts and creatives ever assembled! Join us for this merry Christmas adventure!”

Capacity in the theatre has reduced to allow social distancing in household or support bubbles of up to six. The venue’s bar and restaurant remains closed, however refreshments can be ordered to be delivered direct to seats.

Tickets from £15 go on sale to Friends of The Customs House with priority booking from 10am on Monday 2nd November until 6pm on the 3 November after which the remaining tickets will go on general sale.

Tickets, DVDs and more information is available by visiting:

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