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Little Red Riding Hood - The Customs House, South Shields

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 5th Dec 2014 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge


Photo: Craig Leng 

Once again, ‘the little panto with the big heart’ has set the benchmark for every other Christmas production in the North East this year, with a spectacular production of Little Red Riding Hood. As usual, all the necessary components are included to ensure that the Customs House pantomime represents the best value for money for miles around. Indeed, it could easily be claimed that this year’s production is even better value than ever before, given that we are treated to two pantomimes for the price of one! You see, the tale of Little Red Riding Hood has been cleverly interwoven with that of The Three Little Pigs via the common link of the big bad wolf.

Visually, the production is a sumptuous sight to behold – largely due to the distinctive set and costume design by Paul Shreik and Matt Fox – but also aided by the make-up and prosthetics used by the actors performing the ‘skin roles’: Steven Lee Hamilton as Wolfgang; Gareth Hunter as Bratwurst; Kylie Ann Ford as Chorizo, and Luke Maddison as Saveloy.

The script by Ray Spencer and Graeme Thompson is well-written, too. The strong storyline involves good versus evil, love and romance, comedy capers, song and dance and that ever-satisfying ‘happily ever after’. A cast of committed and charismatic performers ensure that the pace is kept up throughout and the attention of even the youngest audience member never wanders for even a second.

Natasha Haws is a pleasing Red Riding Hood, making the most of the ever-thankless role of principal girl. She sings and moves well and is suitably spirited when dealing with the pompous Prince William, played deliciously dimly by Jamie Brown. Craig Richardson, as Timber the woodcutter, and Stephen Sullivan as Cockney geezer Mr Fracker provide the majority of the slapstick and physical comedy, whilst Jamie Birkett as marvellously malevolent as Bracken, the Forest Witch.

However, it is Ray Spencer as Granny Hood who steals every scene with his deadpan put-downs and near-the-knuckle ad-libs. A good old fashioned proper dame, he has the adults in the audience howling with his off-the-cuff risqué double-entendres, whilst the kids laugh along in blissful oblivion. A panto veteran with decades of experience to his credit, the South Tyneside audiences adore him – and rightly so.

Little Red Riding Hood is like a big box of chocolates – a bit nutty in places, full of all your favourites, has something for everyone and always leaves you wanting more!


Steve Burbridge.

Runs until Saturday 10th January 2015.



1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 3 years ago
    Oh, I DO enjoy a near-the-knuckle ad-lib! Thanks, Steve.
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