Jack and the Beanstalk at the Customs House, South Shields, until January 6
THERE is nothing like a dame – particularly in the Customs House pantomime. For, despite being in panto more than 30 years, the legendary Bob Stott still makes a refreshing change from your run-of-the-mill Widow Twankey.
He is paired with dippy but adorable son Tommy, played by South Shields’ other legend, Ray Spencer, and they never fail to deliver, having young and old in stitches from start to finish.
From slapstick culinary catastrophes to topical gags about canoes and dodgy donations, Bob and Ray are the icing on the Christmas cake in yet another gem of a panto.
Opening soon after the theatre’s multi-million-pound refurbishment, this year’s production seems to have received a makeover of its own with flashier costumes and a set to compete with big-budget rivals.
That’s not to mention a new writer and director, with Ray Spencer having passed the baton to Tyne Tees boss Graeme Thompson, who was clearly up to the task.
There are welcome returns for Eurovision star David Ducasse as Jack and feisty fairy graduate Victoria Elliott.
Customs House regular Graham Overton shows his versatility by switching from buffoon to baddie to take on the role of Flesh Creep.
TV veteran John Grundy makes an impressive stage debut as the doddery King and Laura Norton is the princess.
Billed as the little panto with a big heart, Jack and the Beanstalk is true to its word.