The BEST Pantomime in the North East: Jack & The Beanstalk at the Customs House

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016

This winter, the Customs House are bringing the story of Jack and the Beanstalk to South Shields with their annual pantomime and I urge you to go to see it; this is definitely a show thats not to be missed!

You don’t need to have been following me on Twitter for long to find that I tweet about the Customs House week in, week out.  If you know me outside of the online world, then you’ll also know that I’m always recommending their pantomime to anyone who will listen, regardless of the time of year.

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016

You see, the Customs House pantomime holds a very special place in my heart, as well as the venue itself which you can read about in this post.  I’ve been going every single year since I can remember and it has never, ever disappointed me.  I really mean it when I say that the Customs House panto is consistently my favourite night of the year.

With that in mind, I’m sure you can imagine my joy at being invited along to their press night this year.

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016
Ray Spencer as Dame Trott

Of course, I’m already going to see the panto before it closes on 7th January, with my family but I jumped at the chance to see it sooner.  The great thing about this panto is that no two performances are the same.  While the script is incredibly well written by Ray Spencer and Graeme Thompson, the chemistry between the cast and each audience, the comedy gold on stage that no one could plan for and the quick witted ad libs that follow are what make each show unique.

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016
Luke Maddison as Jack Trott

The panto follows the story of Dame Trott, played by local legend Ray Spencer, and her twin sons, Jack (Luke Maddison) and Arbuthnot (David John Hopper), who live on a dairy farm in Cooksonville.  Since the family only have one cow left and their ice cream business is failing, they need to make some money fast in order to make ends meet.  However there’s no pay loans for these lot, instead they have to sell their only remaining asset; the incredibly cute, Doddington the Cow.  After trading her in for some ol’ beans, the magic really begins…

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016
David John Hopper (left) as Arbuthnot

Jack and the Beanstalk will have even the oldest of adults shouting ‘He’s behind you!’ at the baddy Fleshcreep, played by panto favourite Steven Lee Hamilton who has the most fabulous voice.  The singing in the pantomime at the Customs House is always to such a high standard and the dancing is great too with the South Tyneside Dance Workshop dancers, expertly choreographed by Jacqui West.

With such a great team, this panto ticks all the right boxes for comedy, acting, dancing and singing.  There’s even a performance of Pen Pineapple Apple Pen!

You’ll be crying with laughter at the messy scene that is sure to be filled with ad-libs individual to each performance.  Some instances in panto you can write and prepare for but not control and the cast at the Customs House are ALWAYS great at chucking a few one liners into the mix to have you howling from your seat.

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016
Natasha Haws as Eloise

I was very happy to see the superb Natasha Haws back in the panto this year as Eloise, the daughter of the Mayor of Cooksonville, played by the uber talented Gareth Hunter who I have seen performing before in Encore at the Customs House.

Being the love interest of two brothers must have its difficulties but in true North East style, lovable Arbuthnot ends up pied and Eloise falls for hero Jack.  Traditional and predictable, yes but that’s the story and what a great tale it is.  I’d love to see a panto where the underdog gets the girl… oh yes I would!

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016
Gareth Hunter (left) as the Mayor of Cooksonville

New to the panto this year is the fabulous Eleanor Chaganis who plays the Fairy Arachis, waving her magic wand over Cooksonville in a beautiful green costume, designed by Fox and Shriek.  They’re back once again, creating the most magical and mystical bespoke costumes for the Customs House panto with designs that are unlike anything I’ve seen on a panto stage before!

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016
Eleanor Chaganis as Fairy Arachis

The costumes and the set design are the perfect aesthetic for the story of Jack and The Beanstalk.  I’m always really impressed with the fantastic set and staging at the Customs House.  Many might think that it wouldn’t be as good for a smaller venue in the region but it is far from that and really rivals some of the bigger theatres.

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016
Steven Lee Hamilton as Fleshcreep

The Customs House pantomime is known as the little panto with the big heart which couldn’t be more apt.  It will have you falling in love with the show, the cast and the venue and I guarantee, you’ll be wanting to return year on year, just like I do.

Laughter is addictive, especially those proper belly laughs that don’t occur often enough in life, and the Customs House has me creased every single Christmas.  At last years panto, I literally cried all of my eye makeup off including my false lashes by the interval so I’d definitely recommend bringing something for touch ups afterwards if you’re going out!

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016

What remains the same with every performance is that the pantomime is HILARIOUS; it is very cleverly written and is as much for adults as it is for children.  I’ve been to other pantomimes elsewhere in addition to the Customs House in the past and its really felt as though it was solely for kids; fabulous acting, singing and dancing but structured, serious and very much aimed at making children laugh and smile rather than the parents.  If you’re looking for something thats fun for all the family this Christmas, then Jack and The Beanstalk is undoubtedly the best choice.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘fun for all the family’ used a lot, especially with events around this time of the year and I don’t know about you but all too often, I find them geared towards young children and families.  However this pantomime really is suitable for EVERYONE.  This year, I took my friend with me and we both thoroughly enjoyed the performance, laughing our twenty-something and forty-something socks off throughout.  I’m sure I’ll have equally as good a time when I go back with my Dad and hubby later on in the run.

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016

What’s great about the Customs House is that you always get a fantastic view of the stage, no matter where you sit in the theatre.  If you’re on the front row, you’ll not be craning your neck and if you’re at the back there’s no need for binoculars; everyone looks like real people and you still feel as involved and captivated by the performance as if you were sat at the front.

In all honesty, it would be hard not to spot the lovable, life size Doddington The Cow who is sure to capture everyones hearts and I’m not going to lie, I am slightly envious of her luscious long eyelashes!

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016

You’ll find plenty of pots of Doddington ice cream to enjoy in the interval and for those who have really fallen in love with ol’ Dodders, a soft toy is available to take home for only £5.  That’s another thing that I love about the Customs House; they don’t rip you off with ticket prices, refreshments or memorabilia.

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016

If you’re looking for a panto to go to this winter thats suitable for all ages, affordable and great value for money then Jack & The Beanstalk at the Customs House is more than a safe bet.  I’d love it if you could support my favourite venue in the North East.  You can see a glimpse of the characters with their advert here.

Tickets for the Customs House panto start at £9.75 for 150 minutes of side splitting fun.  It runs until 7th January so you’ve got plenty of time to go to see it.  I usually go after Christmas as the performance itself isn’t particularly Christmassy that it would feel out of place to go after the big man has been.  There’s over 70 shows but you’ll have to be quick and grab tickets while they’re still available.

Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomime at the Customs House South Shields 2016

To book, head to the Customs House website, call them direct on 0191 454 1234 or get down to the venue itself at Mill Dam, South Shields, NE33 1ES.

What is your favourite thing about a pantomime?  Which one is your fave?  Have you ever been to the Customs House?


  1. Samantha Rickelton
    December 12, 2016 / 9:05 pm

    Lush review Laura and I second every word – it was a fab night x

  2. LaaLaa Monroe
    December 12, 2016 / 9:27 pm

    The costumes are brilliant, so creative and bold. I'm so glad you had a great night. I've not been to a pantomime in forever x

  3. ana de jesus
    December 12, 2016 / 9:47 pm

    I do love a good pantomime / show and the costumes and make up is theatrical and creative. Just the way I like them.

  4. Sarah-Louise Bailey
    December 12, 2016 / 10:09 pm

    The sets and costumes are so unbelievably beautiful, what a wonderful job they have done at the Customs House! This panto sounds like such a wonderful time, I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.

  5. Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes
    December 13, 2016 / 7:15 am

    This looks like so much fun! It's been ages since I went to a panto.

  6. Jo Wiggins
    December 13, 2016 / 9:09 am

    £9.75 is great value for money. I c an't wait to go to panto's when my baby is a bit older. Love the fact they ad lib so no 2 show is the same x

  7. Melanies Fab Finds
    December 13, 2016 / 9:22 am

    It really does sound and look like a fun show for both adults and children. I need to book in to see a pantomime over Christmas with my little ones. Love the costumes they did a great job with them.

  8. Stephanie Merry
    December 13, 2016 / 9:39 am

    I love going to the Panto at Christmas, it's one of the traditions from my childhood that I love! x

  9. Rhian Westbury
    December 13, 2016 / 9:48 am

    I love going to panto as it's always such a fun time, but I'm sad I can't make one this year x

  10. Teresa Bowen
    December 13, 2016 / 10:28 am

    I haven't been to a pantomime in years but I'm oh so tempted this year. You make it sound like such a fun night out.

  11. Katie Jane Online
    December 13, 2016 / 11:17 am

    You told me last year Customs house has the best Panto and I can agree with you now. I loved this preformance of Jack and the beanstalk. Katie x

  12. Rosana
    December 13, 2016 / 1:02 pm

    This panto looks great and the outfits so well put together. R

  13. Anosa Malanga
    December 13, 2016 / 8:46 pm

    Sounds like a really great pantomime, the constumes are absolutely gorgeous and bright.

  14. Baby Isabella
    December 13, 2016 / 10:09 pm

    We went to our first panto at the weekend too! This looks like a fab production and love all the costumes!

  15. Annie B
    December 14, 2016 / 8:19 am

    I keep seeing so many people at panto and I haven't been in years! We need a blogger trip to panto…!

  16. Claire
    December 14, 2016 / 12:25 pm

    Love a good panto, such a fun thing to enjoy at Christmas!

  17. La French Connection
    December 14, 2016 / 4:35 pm

    This looks funky! I barely ever go to the theatre to be honest…Mika

  18. Behind The Scent
    December 14, 2016 / 8:23 pm

    Such a detailed review! I never usually go to panto's but I've seen so many about them this year!

  19. Tanya Brannan
    December 14, 2016 / 8:56 pm

    Fantastic review! I wish it was closer to me! You can't beat a good panto, no matter what age you are and this sounds fabulous

  20. Nayna Kanabar
    December 14, 2016 / 10:06 pm

    This looks like a great pantomime, the costumes look super too.

  21. Nicol
    December 15, 2016 / 1:14 am

    pantos are so fun! there needs to be more near me. all the ones are always too far

  22. Emma Matthews
    December 15, 2016 / 8:17 am

    I've seen so many panto posts being published recently! It's clearly that time of the year. It looks like you had a great time. I'm impressed with the costumes, they look incredible x

  23. Brand And Beauty
    December 15, 2016 / 12:04 pm

    Amazing review! I have never heard of this play before but it sounds really interesting. I have only been to one in my life and that was Les Miserables. Though I might go to this one x

  24. Laura Hartley
    December 16, 2016 / 10:46 am

    Oh wow all those costumes look incredible! This looks like such a fun production and great if the adults can enjoy it too!

  25. Lubka Henry
    December 16, 2016 / 8:00 pm

    I've never been to a pantomime. This show looks well worth the visit.

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