Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 15.02.59Two pantomime regulars are preparing to leave audiences spellbound as they take over the reins of one of the region’s most popular festive shows.

Neil Armstrong and Paul Hartley will be familiar faces to anyone who has attended Gala Theatre’s annual pantomime over the past few years.

Now the pair are set to take on new roles writing and directing the theatre’s this year’s production of Cinderella.

But fans of their onstage antics shouldn’t be disappointed as they will also be starring in this year’s production. Neil will be playing the villainous Dan Meanie and Paul will take on the role of the hapless Buttons.

“I’m delighted to be writing and directing with Paul this year,” Neil said. “We had a great time writing the script and were laughing a lot as we did so. Hopefully, the audience will too when they see the show.

“We’ve also got a few surprises lined up as we’ve tried to incorporate everything we love about the panto at Gala – but with some new twists.

“I’ve lost count of how many pantos I’ve actually appeared in, but Gala’s are special to me. The audiences have been brilliant to both Paul and I – hopefully, we can repay them with this year’s show.”

Neil and Paul’s version of the enchanting rags-to-riches story of Cinderella will be at Gala from Thursday, 26 November 2015 to Sunday, 3 January 2016.

They will be joined on stage by Hazel Pude, who will be confined to the kitchen as Cinderella, while John Carter and Paul Dunn will be on hand to make her life difficult as Ugly Sisters, Betty and Sweaty.

It will be down to Sally Collett as the Fairy Godmother to wave her magic wand and cast a spell that will help Cinders win the heart of the handsome Prince Charming, played by James Hedley.

Robin Byers, Durham County Council’s service manager for place and experience, said: “It’s a really exciting development for us to have Neil and Paul writing and directing Cinderella. They bring a wealth of panto experience to the job and know exactly what Durham audiences love. I know audiences will be delighted with what they’ve got in store.”

Thousands of people enjoyed Gala’s 2014 production of Aladdin, with almost 28,000 tickets sold for the six-week run.

With some of this year’s performances already selling out, audiences are encouraged to book now so they don’t miss out.

Tickets for evening and matinee performances are available. Prices start at £8.

To book, visit Gala box office, call 03000 266 600 or visit www.galadurham.co.uk