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Panto Arrives At The Kings

Author: annahowelll Published: 13th August 2019 11:52

It may only technically be August but thanks to the Kings Theatre Portsmouth, and the super talented cast of the 2019 Panto Aladdin, a little bit of Christmas magic arrived in Southsea yesterday and AboutMyArea Portsmouth was there to enjoy it. 

In true Kings Theatre style selected members of the press, and a few lucky members of the public, were treated to a bite size snippet of what we can expect when panto season lands this Christmas, with each of the cast members taking to the stage to introduce themselves and give us a song or an act - And what a treat you are all in for.

This year is set to be a corker of a show as all of the traditions that we have come to love and hold dear are wrapped up in an exciting new format and a first class script bought to life by a new director and co-writer, children's presenter Mike Goble - Who is a Portsmouth lad we discovered yesterday - and who is taking on the role of Wishee Washee alongside an extra special cast who he has handpicked for this festive run.
Mike explained to us:

 "I was actually born in St Marys hospital and was brought up between Cosham and Waterlooville so I used to come to the Kings Theatre to see shows, in fact my Nan used to work here as one of the volunteers for fifteen years and when I told her the news that I was here for the panto, her face literally lit up.

"I am looking forward to spending Christmas here and being able to see more friends and family, and popping up to see them between shows. I have sometimes been so far away that there is no chance of me doing that, we always make time to have a Christmas together at some point after, and I always make sure that the other members of the cast have a Christmas together too, but to be able to do it in real time this year is exciting."

Of course there is a lot of pressure for any new writer coming in and taking over the script, especially in a city where tradition is taken so seriously, so on behalf of you all I asked Mike the question on everyone's lips "was he including the 12 Days of Christmas" in this year's script, to which he answered, after gasping:

"I think that may have been the first thing that was discussed; this sort of change could make the news. I was told as soon as I came in that the 12 Days was a big deal here which is great for me."

Of course as much of a tradition that the 12 days is, there is another tradition even bigger and that is Portsmouth's very own classic Dame Jack Edwards, who you will be very pleased to know is taking on the role of Widow Twankey in this year's production, and your child could be joining him on stage as another tradition being carried on this year is the open auditions for Portsmouth children to join the ensemble, as Jack explained to us: 

"Actually that is a really big thing this year because we have a new co-producer and a new choreographer and we just want to scream about it; it is just so important that it gets out there to all the schools because there are lots of kids who have been to see the show and have now grown up hoping that they can be part of it. So we have to make sure that we really put it out there so that all the local dance schools and groups in Portsmouth know that they can. Portsmouth actually produces a lot of great talent."

To which Mike added:

"And you know it may be an ensemble part this year but some of the talent I have seen coming out of this exact situation is incredible; I've had one young lad go on to star in Priscilla in the West End and another in Matilda"
As for Jack we had to ask him how, being the busiest man in Portsmouth with his roles in the Kings and the Portsmouth Players not to mention running his super popular Gaiety Bar in the newly developed South Parade Pier, he manages to make time every year to keep coming back to take on the biggest role in panto:

"I think because I am now doing the creative director role at the Kings and I've taken a step back from my professional work on stage, I still wanted to keep doing something and panto was the thing that I have loved all my life. I have done so many of them over the years, to not do it would just be weird."

Joining Mike and Jack this year are two of the coolest men in the singing world - Boyzone's Shane Lynch and Ben Ofoedu from Phats & Small - playing Abanazar and the Genie. Unfortunately Shane couldn't make the launch but we caught up with Ben to find out how he was feeling about being part of this year's Kings Theatre panto.

"I didn't really know that much about this theatre when I found out I was here this year, but a good friend of mine Sean Smith from Same Difference who I was doing Sleeping Beauty with last year told me about it because of course this is his local manor (Sean is from Waterlooville). He told me that he thought I would love the theatre. I have been in some theatres that are smaller and more modern but nothing like this and when I got here and I looked out from the stage I got exactly what he meant.

"You just can't help but fall in love with it; this is what theatre should look like. As a musician you don't often get to play theatres, you are either in concert halls or nightclubs, so I really appreciate getting to perform here."
As for Portsmouth in general, Ben told us why he was excited to be here this Christmas:

"This is only my second time here so I haven't seen much of it. When you are gigging you don't get much of a chance to see the city or town that you are performing in, there isn't enough time, and so I am looking forward to actually being here, and walking around and getting to know everywhere.

"I already know that the Portsmouth crowds are a good lively crowd, and that's how I used to judge areas, by the crowd that I performed to, so to be able to experience the city is exciting. I know it is an amazing city, and with so much culture and history with the beach and the port, I am looking forward to taking it all in with the Christmas lights and magic. And Jack owns a bar down here so that will probably be my second home."

Another plus point is that Ben will be working alongside Shane, one of his close friends, again:

"This will be our fourth panto together, we do get on really well and even if we haven't seen each other in a while we do have this energy on stage, which you will see when the show starts."

Finally AboutMyArea were able to catch up with The Voice star Lucy Kane, West End actress Dani Acors and Daniel Slade - who play Princess Jasmine, The Spirit of the Ring and Aladdin himself - to find out how they were feeling about being at the Kings this panto season, with Dani sharing with us her fondest memories of the city:

"So I have been here before as the show I was in came here when we were touring the UK and I had this wonderful day here with a friend from the cast, down on the pier doing the dance mats and the penny machines and then went to Gunwharf shopping. It was really sunny, and I know that when I tour in the UK the weather has a lot to do with how you remember it - especially being by the sea here.

"We were a young cast and we were all staying in student digs at the university, with all of us in and out of each other's rooms and it is just really lovely memories that we made here, and I am just really excited to be back here. Plus I got an amazing cow onezie from the massive Primark here, I love it!"

Lucy, who not only has worked with the legend that is Tom Jones, but who comes from a rather famous background (her mum is Linda Lusardi!) added: 

"I have never been to Portsmouth before, but I am really really excited to be by the sea. I just love water, I am a water baby at heart, and even though it will be cold I am looking forward to going for nice walks along the pier. And the theatre is so beautiful, I don't think I have ever played in a theatre like this before, it is just stunning."

Daniel added:

"I've never been here before either but the thing I love about my job and acting is that you are always in a different place so exploring a new city or town is definitely one of the perks that I love. You never get bored as you are always somewhere different.

"As for the theatre it is definitely one of the big massive plus points of being here for panto, the Kings Theatre is just stunning. When we just walked out to perform today and saw those tiers, it just made me realise I couldn't wait to start the show."

Aladdin is showing at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, from Wednesday December 11 through till Sunday 5 January 2020, with various performances each day. Book your tickets here now to save disappointment.


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