Davey Hopper to appear in one final Customs House Panto this summer
South Shields Customs House
Friday 4th - Saturday 12th August 2023
Get ready to be swept off your feet as The Customs House presents its first summer Pantomime; Cinderella. The South Tyneside arts centre will take audiences on a summery sojourn to the magical world of Cooksonville.
Written by Ray Spencer and Graeme Thompson, the pantomime features Davey Hopper as Arbut—tons, Glen Richard Townsend as Den-Dini, Christina Berriman Dawson as Stepmother, Rebekah Summerhill as Cinderella, Jess Brady as Fairy Godmother, Dale Jewitt as Di, David McCarthy as Coni and Andy Borthwick as Prince Charming.
Join the feisty and kind-hearted Cinderella as she battles her wicked stepmother, the hilarious ugly stepsisters, and a fabulous fairy godmother. With magical transformations, catchy songs, and uproarious comedy from Pantomime favourites Arbut-tons and Den-dini, this whimsical extravaganza will have you laughing, singing, and dancing in your seat. Will Cinderella make it to the royal ball and capture the heart of the dashing prince? Find out in this enchanting and joyous production filled with sparkling costumes, dazzling sets, and a dash of fairy tale magic.
For Customs House pantomime favourite Davey Hopper, this production will live particularly long in the memory as he says goodbye to his much-loved character, Arbuthnot.
The 29-year-old from South Shields has been playing the part of Arbuthnot for the last eight years in the South Tyneside venue’s Christmas pantomime.
However, after landing his dream job in Disneyland Paris, Davey will be saying ‘au revoir’ to his alter ego in a special summer pantomime.
Cinderella, which runs from August 4 to 12, may be Arbuthnot’s last outing but Davey is making sure he goes out with a bang.
He said: “Eight years ago, comic in The Customs House panto was the end game, I do genuinely believe it’s the best job in the world. I know I’m incredibly lucky and I will miss it, but when you achieve your dream, you must get new goals.”
“Playing Pumbaa in Disneyland is like a fairytale - and I wouldn’t leave Customs House for anything else.
“The cherry on the cake is knowing the job of comic is going to my best friend Glen Richard Townsend – he’s going to smash it.”
Glen commented” I’m so proud of Davey. When he told me he’d got the job I was over the moon, and now I’m so excited to be filling his massive shoes.”
Born in Consett, Davey grew up spending his whole six-weeks summer holidays in a touring caravan coming to South Shields. It was there he first saw Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer as his own alter ego, Tommy the Trumpeter.
“I was about six or seven and I loved coming to see Tommy, I then discovered that I could come and see him in The Customs House pantomime at Christmas. I remember watching that first panto and thinking ‘that’s what I want to do’.”
Davey’s first panto role was in comprehensive school in Cinderella, he was desperate to play Buttons, but he got the role of Dandini.
“It feels like a full circle moment that the final pantomime I do as Arbut will be Cinderella and I’ll be playing Ar-Buttons!”
Davey made his professional debut on home turf in Consett Empire’s pantos lead by Leah Bell as well as appearing in Gateshead’s and Westovians’ pantos.
“Leah taught me so much, probably more than I learned at drama school, but the dream was always Customs House. At 21 I was at a Westovians dinner dance and Ray was there and thought now’s the time to make my move.”
What Davey didn’t realise is Ray Spencer had already been keeping an eye on his career and was keen to give him his shot in The Customs House’s show.
“I was so nervous, by the end of the conversation he passed me a napkin with a list of the Jack and the Beanstalk characters and said who are you going to play? You’re going to play my idiot son! I couldn’t believe it but took what he said to me with a pinch of salt. Eight years later and we’re here – sadly, Cinderella will be his last panto.
“When Ray first told me the character was going to be called Arbuthnot, I was like ‘no’ but it really works, and that’s what makes The Customs House pantomime so good, Ray really knows what he’s doing as writer, director and as the best dame around. The relationship Ray and I have as the dame and the comic is special and I don’t know if I’ll ever find that unspoken connection with another performer. But it may be that which has helped me with the Pumbaa role as Timon and Pumbaa must have that special relationship. I don’t think I could have gone into that room if it wasn’t for the confidence The Customs House gave me. I’d just like to say a huge thank you to Customs House and my agent Janet Plater. Cinderella is going to be a great send off to Arbuthnot, come along and help us say goodbye.”
Ray commented “Everyone at The Customs House is thrilled and delighted to see Davey join the land that is Disney. We will miss him terribly, but we are so lucky to have Cousin Dennis join our Customs House panto family.”
Cinderella runs at The Customs House from August 4 to 12. Tickets are £15 and available from www.customshouse.co.uk or by calling the box office on 0191 454 1234
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