BIG, sparkly costumes are every bit as important to panto as the songs, gags and slapstick scenes.

They turn a stage show into a theatre extravaganza and help bring the characters to life ensuring a memorable festive day out for every member of the audience.

The woman tasked with creating the costumes for Gala Durham’s annual pantomime – which is Robin Hood this year – is Emily Baxendale.

And after four years at the Durham City centre venue she knows how to wow the audience with her creations, and keep the performers happy.

Read more: Durham panto: BSL and relaxed shows as Rose Ayling-Ellis’ Strictly success sees interest grow

Emily starts designing the costumes in July after meeting with the show’s directors and starts sourcing and buying fabric in August.

She then works round-the-clock from September, until the curtain rises on opening night, making the outfits.

This is one of her favourite parts of the process and she gets a buzz out of using difference combinations of fabric – recycling and reusing as much as she can which is becoming increasingly important as people try to become more environmentally aware.

When the shows start, Emily can be found backstage helping to dress the performers and maintain the costumes throughout the run of the panto season.

Robin Hood at Gala Durham

Robin Hood at Gala Durham

She said: “Panto is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle.

“Costume, set and props, lighting and sound are all essential pieces.

“Costume is very important to panto. Audiences expect striking – and big – costumes. The visual impact is vital.

“Costumes help tell the story and give us more information about that character.

“With panto, the bigger and sparklier the better.

“The performers need to be able to move easily in their costumes and they have to be designed to facilitate quick changes, often in the wings.

“Many of the team return each year, so I know what each actor and dancer is comfortable wearing.

“We’re a friendly and supportive team.”

Robin Hood at Gala Durham

Robin Hood at Gala Durham

Councillor Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “It just wouldn’t be Christmas without Gala’s panto.

“It’s productions like this that really showcase the talent that we have in the region, and why we as a county are bidding for UK City of Culture 2025.”

Robin Hood at Gala Durham

Robin Hood at Gala Durham

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