SIGNING SHEEP STARS IN PANTO AT THE CUSTOMS HOUSE, SOUTH SHIELDS

A hearing-impaired actor is performing at this year’s pantomime at The Customs House to share her love of sign language with young audiences.

Charlie Raine, 26, who is originally from Sunderland but now lives in London, experienced hearing loss from a young age and now mainly functions as a lip reader.

She will appear as the signing sheep Cutlet in this year’s panto at The Customs House, Beauty and the Beast, from Tuesday, November 27 to 5 January.

This follows Charlie’s appearance as Polly the Parrott in Arbuthnot and Puddles’ Pirate Adventure at the theatre this summer, in which she used Makaton and encouraged the audience to sign along with her to songs.

She said: “I’m really excited to join The Customs House panto family and bring adorable little Cutlet to life. I’ve done panto before and I absolutely love it.

“I normally get cast in the princess role, but last year I had the pleasure of playing the cheeky and mischievous Smee in Peter Pan at The Bull Theatre in London. I had a blast playing Polly in The Customs House’s summer panto this year.”

Charlie trained at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in London, gaining a masters in Theatre for Young Audiences.

Since graduating, she has toured the UK with various family shows, including Fans (The Six Twenty – Northern Stage and Live Theatre), Treasure Island (LP Creatives) and In The Night Garden Live (Minor Entertainment).

She is also a member of London gospel choir Enchorus and has worked as a residential backing singer for The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK.

A highlight of her career so far has been performing in Richard Thomas’ Wrong Sings for Christmas at National Theatre, directed by Evan Ensign.

Last year, Charlie set up a YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/BSLcharlie – to raise deaf awareness and help break down communication barriers, featuring British Sign Language (BSL) tutorials and pop song covers.

She will be barely recognisable as Cutlet, who she describes as sassy, due to the fluffy pink costume and make-up she will be wearing.

She said: “So far, I know that Cutlet’s dream is to be a ballet dancer and that I will be speaking Makaton. The costume is wonderful! Cutlet is ever so stylish and even wears a Kardashian backpack and a beret.”

Executive Director of The Customs House, Ray Spencer, who also directs and co-writes the panto with Graeme Thompson, returns as Dame Bella, along with David John Hopper, who plays Arbuthnot.

Beauty will be played by Annie Guy, Steven Lee Hamilton is The Prince/Beast, Afnan Iftikhar takes on the role of Gascoigne, Gareth Hunter is Beauty’s father, the Duke du Pomme Frites, Georgia Nicholson is playing the housekeeper, Hortense, and Eleanor Changanis is The Enchantress.

Get your tickets before the last petal falls!

Beauty and the Beast

Tuesday, November 27, to Saturday, January 5.

Performance times vary and tickets are priced from £9.99.

Box Office: 0191 454 1234