Georgian Theatre celebrates ten years of in-house pantos with opening of Aladdin

The curtain has gone up on the Georgian Theatre Royal’s festive production of Aladdin, marking ten years since the historic playhouse made the bold decision to produce its own pantomime.

Up until then, the country’s oldest working theatre in its original form had brought in external companies with ‘ready-to-go’ productions.

However, the theatre wanted to create something bespoke for the intimate Georgian auditorium and local audiences.

Mother Goose was the first in-house production in 2010.

The theatre’s Sleeping Beauty was chosen by The Observer as one of its top festive shows of 2018, and in 2015, The Telegraph named the Richmond Theatre as the number one place to see a pantomime in the UK.

“Aladdin promises to have all the ingredients that make our pantomimes so admired by audiences and critics alike,” said Clare Allen, chief executive of theatre and pantomime director and producer.

“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, with the final six as dame.

His outing as Aladdin’s larger-than-life mother, 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.

“At the end of the day, I just hope it’s a good old-fashioned romp with a funky backbeat; a musical mash-up of magnificence, mayhem and memorable moments.”

Also in 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 ne’er do well 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, who is himself a multi-instrumentalist performer, composer and arranger, to provide the important musical dimension to the production, together with accomplished musician Alastair James.

The chorus is made up of three groups of talented young performers – including members of The Georgian Theatre Royal Youth Theatre – that have become a mainstay of this popular family-style of pantomime.

Aladdin runs from Friday 6 December 2019 until Sunday 12 January 2020.

Tickets are priced from £10.50 and are available from the Box Office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service on the theatre’s website www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk