If truth be told, you don't need to have been following me on social media for too long to know that my ultimate favourite past time is to go to see live shows. Whether its a musical, play, comedian or a singer, I love to see live performances. There's just something so magical about seeing super talented people do what they do best right before your very eyes.
One of my favourite places to go to see theatrical and musical performances is The Customs House in South Shields which is a short ride on the Metro away from Newcastle. Plus, if you're going to see a performance there, your Metro journey is actually free if you show your theatre ticket for the performance to the inspector! For me, it is one of the North Easts best hidden gems and when Travelodge asked me if I'd like to share a place that makes Newcastle special for me, I couldn't think of any where more appropriate.
I've been going to The Customs House since I was a little girl. It is most well known as a theatre, where I have seen countless stage performances, however it also has a great cinema which is perfect if you prefer a smaller venue to some of the big named venues around and an art gallery with some exquisite exhibitions that really need to be appreciated in person. I always seem to remember them having some great theatre groups that would teach drama too and they'd put on a show. My friend Heidi used to go along and thoroughly enjoyed every week, I just wish I'd known about it when I was younger as I'd have loved to have joined in.
There is one very special thing that keeps me coming back to The Customs House every single year and that's their pantomime. It is HILARIOUS. I've been going every single year since I can remember and it has never, ever disappointed. They call it the little pantomime with the big heart and I would most certainly agree. What sets it aside from so many other pantos is that it is as much for the adults as it is for the kids because the jokes in it are so funny. The script is so cleverly written and I find myself laughing out loud so many times throughout it.
Given that it is a smaller theatre than some in the area, when you're watching the pantomime performance, or any performance for that matter, you're never too far away from the stage, everyone looks like real people, theres no need for binoculars and you really become captivated by the performances. The staging, aesthetically, is always so incredible and well put together, you'd think that you were in a huge theatre in London.
My funniest memories from the pantomimes at The Customs House always involve a local legend, Ray Spencer MBE, who is the Chief Executive of The Customs House Trust. He used to be children's entertainer in the area known as Tommy The Trumpeter and I remember him coming into our junior school to entertain us each year. He would always play Tommy in the pantomimes and last year he was Dame. Ray has been honoured for his dedication and hard work and I very much feel as though he is a really big part of the Customs House itself.
This year, the panto is Alice in Wonderland and I really hope that he's going to be in it! Like I always do every year, I went online to book our tickets. While looking online, I also saw that Joe McElderry was going to be performing that Sunday and out of interest, I checked to see how much the tickets were and what seats were left.
The Customs House is always very affordably priced, they're not a venue that is out to rip you off and as they're a not for profit charitable trust, any profit that they make goes back into supporting their community and education projects, nurturing new creative talent (which is so important as so many, now well know, actors and singers have once graced the stage at The Customs House) and maintaining the beautiful building that is The Customs House.
Oh I didn't mention that did I? The Customs House is an impressive Grade II listed building right on the south bank of the River Tyne in the Mill Dam area. It is immaculately kept and always looks nothing short of spectacular. I love visiting, even if its just for a quick lunchtime coffee at The Green Room restaurant inside the building.
Anyway, back to Joe. As luck would have it, there was one ticket left and I knew that I had to have it so booked it there and then. I would never have thought that I'd have the confidence to go to see a performance on my own but there being one seat left in a great location in the stalls made me feel like it was fate!
The Customs House has this really friendly atmosphere and as it is a relatively small venue, I didn't feel out of my depth. As soon as I took my seat, a couple started talking to me and any feelings of being nervous went away.
My hubby came in to meet me for a drink during the interval so that I wasn't on my own and the whole evening was absolutely fabulous. It was so amazing to see Joe McElderry in his home town, as he lives literally 5 minutes away from the venue and it very much felt like a homecoming performance for him as like other celebrities, such as Jade from Little Mix, the Customs House was a part of their lives growing up as it was for so many others.
Joe's show was an acoustic performance of his Evolution Tour which was absolutely amazing. His voice sounded incredible and it was great to hear a stripped back performance where his personality could really come through in between songs. I loved the 'Jukebox Joe' part that he did in the second half where theatre goers could suggest songs for him to sing and he'd sing parts of them. I don't think he thought he'd be singing Let It Go from Frozen and Last Christmas in October!
I'd highly recommend checking out The Customs House website if you're looking for entertainment in the North East. It is a must visit venue!
For the show, I decided to dress smartly but comfortably so that I could dance in my seat!
I do love a good slogan tee but the ones I find rarely have wording that I love. When I spot one that does, I snap it up pronto.
The 'Brains, Beauty, Booty.' slogan tee made me giggle when I saw it. I love a bit of alliteration and find the slogan quite empowering actually. Its like saying you can have and be all three, all at the same time and that's fabulous!
I love the white lettering printed onto the super black background. There's something chic about it, despite the tongue in cheek slogan, that made it perfectly acceptable to dress up a little for an evening out at The Customs House.
I paired it with my black waterfall jacket and pull-on jeggings which are both staples in my wardrobe. Along with my gorgeous Michael Kors Flats which are, again, a staple in my collection. Are you sensing a theme here?
Ever since I bought these shoes, I've been looking for a bag that I could wear with them. I wear them so frequently and love the look of the black with the gold hardware.
When I saw the Mulberry Lily in black with soft gold hardware, I knew that it would be perfect. I have an unboxing video coming up all about this bag so I'll keep my lips sealed for now, except to say that I love it!
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