Panto season is once again on the horizon in Preston and this year’s magical production will take the audience’s breath away, its writer has said.
Aladdin arrives at the Guild Hall in December with much more than just a magic lamp.
Grand illusions such as characters disappearing before your eyes and flying carpets are promised among a host of ‘wow’ moments.
Rehearsals are just about to start and for writer and director Phil Walker – who also stars as Wishee Washee – the excitement is starting to build.
He said: “It’s great, it’s the fun bit for me, seeing what has been in my head for months actually get to the stage. We get to go into rehearsals and play around with it.
“Once we’ve got rehearsals out the way, I’m basically Wishee Washee.
“We’ve managed to put some really talented people together so the directing is during the rehearsals, during the show it’s about letting them do their thing, keep the energy going. If people see you’re having fun on stage, they’ll have fun in the audience.”
Phil says youngsters and parents alike are bound to be impressed with the show’s top-class special effects.
He said: “With kids these days, they’ve seen a lot of things in movies, so you have to give them that, ‘Wow, I wasn’t expecting that’ moment.
“Of course we’ve got all the traditional pantomime gags going on and some great characters.
“The flying carpet will take your breath away, it’s spectacular, it really is.
“Aladdin is such a good story, it’s a wholesome story.”
The cast features TV magician and comedian Paul Zenon as Abanazar, Nickelodeon’s Carl Tracey as Aladdin, Stacey McClean from S Club Juniors as Princess Jasmine and professional panto dame Jeffrey Longmore as Widow Twankey.
Paul said: “Abanazar is the great magic role in the whole of panto, it’s the ideal role for me.
“We’ve got a couple of smaller tricks and larger illusions, I’m really looking forward to it.
“It’s basically me torturing various members of the cast; shoving them in boxes, shoving spikes through them, making them disappear!”
It is also a homecoming of sorts for the former Blackpool resident.
He added: “The first time I was here (at the Guild Hall) was with Hawkwind in 1982, then in the late 90s with Hale and Pace.
“If this goes well they might have be back on a equally regular basis, every 18 years!
“It’s almost home turf for me because I used to live in Blackpool and went to school and lived in Lancashire when I was kid, it’s nice to be back home.”
l Aladdin will be performed in the Charter Theatre at Preston Guild Hall from Thursday, December 7 to Wednesday, January 3.
Full details online at https://prestonguildhall.co.uk/shows/aladdin-panto/ or Box Office 01772 804444