RECORD audience numbers attended a pantomime at a community theatre over the Christmas period.

It is a fairytale ending for the cast of Beauty and the Beast who enjoyed their seasonal run at The Empire Theatre in Consett.

The show ran throughout December and was enjoyed by almost 13,000 people.

North-East actress and producer Leah Bell not only wrote and directed the production but also starred as Penelope Potts.

She is delighted Beauty and the Beast was such a hit and is dreaming up a host of treats and surprises for this year’s show, Snow White.

Ms Bell, who has been producing the theatre’s pantomime for almost a decade, said: “Sometimes everything just clicks into place and this December in Consett was one of those times.

“The audience reaction was great. There is always a warm and friendly atmosphere in the theatre during pantomime season but this year it seemed extra special.

“I can’t wait to get started on Snow White, which will have some magical surprises in it.”