Cinderella Mime at Customs House, South Shields

THIS entertaining panto is the way to say goodbye to a great talent and give a fitting introduction to his successor.

Davey Hopper, who has been part of the Northeast’s best panto partnership for several years alongside Ray Spencer, will play Pumbaa in the live-action adaptation of The Lion King at Disneyland Paris. Customs House’s viewer loss is definitely Disney’s gain.

So Cinderella bids a warm goodbye to Davey – or Arbut-tons – and welcomes Glen Richard Townsend (Den-Dini), who will play Ray’s sidekick for the venue’s Christmas panto.

The Northern Echo: Glen Richard Townsend (Den-Dini) left and Davey Hopper (Arbuttons) rightGlen Richard Townsend (Den-Dini) left and Davey Hopper (Arbuttons), right (Image: JORDAN EMBLETON)

This “Cinderella” is based on an updated Spencer/Thompson script with additional text by and directed by Davey Hopper. Rebekah Summerhill stars in the title role alongside Andy Borthwick as Prince Charming. The pair plays well together and both have strong singing voices.

Christina Berriman Dawson is extremely formidable as the evil stepmother Baroness Hardup, while Dale Jewitt and David McCarthy are her idiotic daughters, the ugliest of Cinders’ ugly sisters and stepsisters.

Jess Brady is great as the fairy godmother – but the real stars of the series are Davey and Glen, who work well together and create an excellent script for what it’s worth. The pair have played against Arbuthnot and cousin Dennis for years and the partnership is well-established and extremely effective.

The Northern Echo: The Ugly Sisters Dale Jewitt and David McCarthyThe ugly sisters Dale Jewitt and David McCarthy (Image: JORDAN ELBLETON)

Davey will be a huge miss at Customs House. He is a natural performer who charms his audience with an easy smile, a cheeky wink or a look of mock innocence. He has an undeniable solid presence, perfect comic timing and a very good singing voice. Young Glen has size 11 shoes to fill.

All of Cinderella’s songs are well performed; The brilliant costumes dazzle the backdrop and the young dancers bring lots of color and energy to the show.

Highlights include a great “slop” scene and an emotional final scene in which Arbuttons reveals that he has fallen in love with the fairy godmother and will not be returning to Cooksonville.

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Instead, he’s off to Wonderland – could he mean Disney? There are many jokes about the entertainment giant throughout the show.

And look out for a cameo appearance from a South Shields icon to add some extra fun and energy to the action.

Cinderella runs through Saturday, August 12th. To book tickets please visit Cinderella Mime at Customs House, South Shields

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