Theatre marks decade of ‘in-house’ panto fun
WHEN the curtain went up for Aladdin, this year’s festive production at a historic theatre, it marked ten years since officials decided to go it along and produce their own pantos.
Previously, the Georgian Theatre, in Richmond – the country’s oldest working theatre in its original form – had brought in external companies with ready-to-go productions.
However, officials wanted to create something unique for local audiences to enjoy.
Mother Goose was the first in-house production in 2010 and the Georgian pantomime is now widely regarded as one of the region’s best, with Sleeping Beauty was chosen by The Observer as one of its top festive shows of 2018.
Clare Allen, chief executive of The Georgian Theatre Royal and pantomime director-producer, said: “Aladdin promises to have all the ingredients that make our pantomimes so admired by audiences and critics
“The essential elements are all in place – superb acting, catchy songs, dazzling dance routines, corny jokes and stunning special effects – but we have also built up much-loved traditions over the past decade, such as the throwing of knitted items (lovingly created by the local community) and, of course, the aerial distribution of Tunnocks’ teacakes.”
This year’s script has been written by Gary ‘Gacko’ Bridgens who has appeared in all ten of the theatre’s in-house pantomimes, including six as dame.
His outing Widow Twankey, will mark his last Richmond pantomime performance.
“It’s been a glorious decade and I have had the very best of times here in Richmond. I would like to thank our magnificent audiences for sharing what has been a wild and wonderful ride,” he said.
“Aladdin is the tenth pantomime produced by the theatre and I wanted to reflect that milestone in the script.
“Many families join us year after year and they might well spot a few nods to previous productions. I just hope it’s a good old-fashioned romp with memorable moments.”
Also part the cast is Richmond panto favourite Nick O’Connor, who played Elvis the not-so-cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz and the evil fairy Maleficent in last year’s production of Sleeping Beauty.
He is again taking on the mantle of baddie as Aladdin’s uncle, Abanazar.
Joining him are new faces Quinn Richards in the title role, Emily Arnfield as his love interest Jazz Dillydally and Alex Moran who plays the Genie with just more than a passing resemblance to Freddie Mercury.
Daniel Bowater is returning for the tenth year as musical director and the chorus is made up of three groups of talented young performers – including members of The Georgian Theatre Royal Youth Theatre.
Aladdin runs until Sunday January 12. Tickets are from £10.50 and are available from the box office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service at www.georgian theatreroyal.co.uk.