'The panto is a big family tradition': The cast of Shrewsbury panto Aladdin talk festive magic at Theatre Severn
Shropshire’s biggest panto will open on Wednesday when Theatre Severn throws open the doors to Aladdin.
This year’s spectacular, fun-filled, family pantomime will star Brad Fitt, BBC Radio Shropshire’s Eric Smith, Shrewsbury favourite Victoria McCabe and National Theatre actress Kate Malyon.
The county’s most popular show has been written by Paul Hendy and brought to the region by same creative team behind last year’s smash hit Mother Goose.
Last year’s show was seen by over 42,000 people and venue spokesman Craig Reeves said tickets were selling quickly for this year’s show. He said: “Book now to avoid disappointment and get ready for your fabulous flying-carpet adventure.”
The show will run until January 12 and there will be signed performances, a stagetext performance and a relaxed performance to assist those with special needs.
“Out of all the pantomimes Aladdin is one of the biggest and most spectacular,” said Paul.
“The story goes from Egypt to China and back to Egypt, so it allows itself a lot of spectacle in the show. We have got Brad who has been our dame all this time and he is something of a legend in Shropshire now. We very much build the show around Brad and his comedy talents.”
Hendy, who hails from Telford, has been behind the Shrewsbury panto since 2011.
“I like to think we have built a reputation over the last nine years for putting on one of the funniest, biggest pantomimes in the West Midlands .
“As a local boy I am very proud of the panto and how it had grown.”
Brad Fitt said he was looking forward to his return: “It is always nice coming back, there is a familiarity if you know the venue.
“As a dame you have to connect with the audience so when you feel like you know them already it’s quite nice.”
Despite being such a well-known name in Shrewsbury, Brad said he does not get recognised in the street without his red lipstick and rosy cheeks.
He loves the applause, however, the moment he steps onto the stage.
He added: “All my dames have different names, different children, different tights, but they are the same dame. As soon as I put the make up and a pair of boobs on I start sitting differently and pulling this face.”
Rehearsals started in mid-November and the 40 cast and crew have been perfecting their performance in time for the opening night.
Theatre Severn marketing officer Beki Poole said: “Tickets went on sale at the start of last December, it is the best time for them to go on sale because everyone is in the panto spirit.
“The panto is a big family tradition for a lot of people in Shropshire. There have been a buzz around the theatre from September onwards.”
Meanwhile, Aladdin will also be the panto at Stourbridge Town Hall, with performances continuing until December 1. The Mary Stevens Hospice is presenting the show after last year raising a successful £30,000 for the Hospice. Starring Celeb Big Brother Star White Dee and featuring a professional cast, stunning sets, dazzling costumes and amazing effects, tickets are still available.
Birmingham’s New Alexandra Theatre will feature How The Grinch Stole Christmas from Tuesday until December 7.
Venue spokeswoman Fiona McCartney said: “Magnificent sets and costumes inspired by Dr. Seuss will create the whimsical world of Whoville, while Max the Dog narrates the story of the scheming Grinch whose heart is ‘two sizes too small,’ as he decides to steal Christmas away from the Whos, an endlessly joyful bunch bursting with holiday cheer. The show features the songs You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch and Welcome Christmas.”
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