Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Familiar Faces Fly Into Coventry For Launch of Belgrade’s Festive Panto Spectacular

There’s festive fun and adventure aplenty this Christmas as one of the most popular pantomimes of them all, Aladdin takes to the Belgrade Main Stage from Wed 26 Nov 2014 – Sat 10 Jan 2015.
Following in the success of last year’s record-breaking production of Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin features all the hallmarks of a traditional Belgrade Theatre pantomime, spectacular scenery, incredible costumes, hilarious slapstick and plenty of audience participation.
This year’s festive extravaganza sees the return of Coventry panto legend Iain Lauchlan who will be donning the frock once again in the role of the irrepressible Widow Twankey. Iain holds legendary status in Coventry following 12 unforgettable years as Dame in Belgrade pantomimes between 1988 and 1999. Prior to Sleeping Beauty in 2012/13, Iain was last seen on the Belgrade stage in 2007 when he made a spectacular, one off return to play the Dame in Aladdin to celebrate the reopening of the theatre after its £14 million redevelopment project.
Over his 38 year career in the entertainment industry, Iain has worked on many dramas and television series including BBC’s Playschool for eight years; the very successful Fingermouse series; BBC Playdays, Storytime and Fun Song Factory but is perhaps best known for as the writer of the BAFTA award-winning children’s television series, The Tweenies.
Also returning to the Belgrade panto this Christmas in the role of Twankey’s idiot son and loveable sidekick Wishee Washee is Craig Hollingsworth, who played the Dame Trott’s son Simon in Jack and the Beanstalk last year. Completing this year’s festive line-up are Arina II (Princess Jasmine), Sion Lloyd (Abanazar), William Finkenrath (Emperor), Joanna Sandi (SoShi/Spirit of the Lamp) and Marcquelle Ward (The Genie of the Lamp).
They will be joined on stage this festive season by a talented cast of 24 local performers aged 9-16 who together make up the production’s three teams of pantomime chorus, Chow Mein, Chop Suey and Chop Sticks. The 24 young performers successfully auditioned for a role in this year’s festive pantomime earlier this year following record turn outs attracting young talent from as far afield as Birmingham, Nuneaton and Tamworth.
Iain said, ‘It’s such a thrill to be back at the Belgrade for a third year running performing one of the nation’s all-time favourite pantomimes this Christmas. As well as playing Widow Twankey, I will also be directing the show again, welcoming back some familiar faces plus several cast members who are completely new to the Belgrade Theatre. It’s always a joy to perform panto in Coventry at Christmas as the audiences are always so appreciative. This year’s panto promises comedy by the bucketful, spectacular scenery as well as some of my most flamboyant costumes yet!
There’s heaps of fun to be had as poor Aladdin attempts to win the heart of the beautiful princess Jasmine. But there’s a problem – the law decrees that she can only marry a prince. With the evil Abanazaar determined to stand in his way, can Widow Twankey and Wishee Washey help Aladdin on his path to happiness or are they more interested in the soapy world of their Chinese laundry?
Aladdin is written and directed by Iain Lauchlan. The Assistant Director is Paul Gibson. Costume Design is by Cleo Pettitt with Set and Prop Design by Ian Westbrook. Choreography is by Jenny Phillips. Lighting Design is by Pete Kramer. The Musical Supervisor is Dan Griffin. Sound Design is by Martyn Davies.
Aladdin runs on the Belgrade’s Main Stage from Weds 26 Nov 2014 – Sat 10 Jan 2015. Tickets are priced from £13.75 - £22.25. To book, call the Belgrade Theatre Box Office on 024 7655 3055 or visit the Belgrade Theatre website where tickets are cheaper. Tickets for this year’s festive extravaganza are currently flying off the shelves so audiences are advised to book early to avoid disappointment.

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