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North East success in the Great British Pantomime Awards

Published: 29 April 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Two NE pantos have won awards in the 2019 Great British Panto Awards.

The award for Best Pantomime Animal went to Charlie Raine for her performance as Cutlet the Signing Sheep in Beauty and the Beast at the Customs House, South Shields. Originally, director Ray Spencer had intended Cutlet to be a breakdancer but, learning that he had cast someone who was a signer (she is actually hearting-impaired), he and his assistant Natasha Haws changed their minds and so the signing sheep who led audiences not only to sing along but to sign along was born. But she did rap as well as sign in one song!

The award for Best Lighting/Video went to Ben Cracknell for Goldilocks and the Three Bears at Newcastle Theatre Royal, a Qdos Pantomime.

In addition, a Lifetime Achievement Award went to Sunderland-born Berwick Kaler who has written and starred as the Dame in 40 pantos at York Theatre Royal. This year’s show, The Grand Old Dame of York, was his swan-song, his farewell to pantoland at the age of 72.

As well as the winners, there were seven other NE nominees:

  • Best Comic: David John Hopper for Beauty and the Beast at the Customs House, South Shields
  • Best Principal Boy: Josh Andrews for Peter Pan at Sunderland Empire
  • Best Ensemble: Dick Whittington at Middlesbrough Theatre
  • Best Director: Jimmy Johnson for Peter Pan at Sunderland Empire
  • Best Choreography: James Robinson for Dick Whittington at Middlesbrough Theatre
  • Best Speciality Act: Berserk Riders in Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the Theatre Royal Newcastle
  • Best Staging and Set: Fox and Shriek for Beauty and the Beast at the Customs House, South Shields