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WEEKEND WEB: Aladdin brings magic to Broadway Theatre

Mark Hyde as Widow Twankey and Oliver Broad as Abanazar.
Mark Hyde as Widow Twankey and Oliver Broad as Abanazar.

TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

“There’s nothing better than playing a baddie in panto.” I had to agree with Oliver Broad who will be taking to the stage as Abanazar in KD Theatre Productions’ Aladdin, coming soon to the recently-re-opened Broadway Theatre in Peterborough.

I first experienced boos and hisses as a panto villain when I also appeared as Abanazar in the sixth form of my all-girls school in Newcastle. I may have been styled as an Italian gangster, complete with a fedora and my dad’s dinner jacket, but the traditional response from the audience was electric.

It wasn’t until earlier this year, as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, that I revelled again in the delightful job of scaring young children.

As a professional actor, Oliver has had 17 years of pantomime experience and knows how to get the best from an audience – “just wait for that first boo”.

But he was drawn to the world of panto at a much earlier age. As an 11-year-old boy, he stepped up one night from being the stage hand in the local village panto to taking over the part of Abanazar. The extremely tall actor playing the role had been taken ill and a much smaller Oliver came to the rescue, donning the long cloak which trailed behind him across the stage. The cloak was so huge the young stand-in was able to hide his script inside its voluminous folds, ducking behind it to read the next line in between each evil laugh.

I can’t imagine this experienced pro will need such ingenuity to help him remember lines in this production of Aladdin. He is joined by seasoned pantomime dame, Mark Hyde, as Widow Twankey, and a whole team of professional actors.

Scott Ritchie, who has directed large-scale pantos across the UK, will be keeping everyone in check, including students from Tu Danse in Peterborough as the junior chorus. There are lavish costumes, a live band and a mesmerising flying carpet.

We’re lucky in South Holland to have a number of local theatres putting on pantomimes for the festive season. Families have plenty of choice in Spalding, Boston and Peterborough but it’s lovely to see The Broadway opening its doors again to welcome visitors.

It was established in 1937 as an Odeon cinema and has a fantastic Art Deco style auditorium. It really is a fabulous venue. Harrison Fuller, theatre manager, is looking forward to welcoming audiences to the theatre over the festive period and tells me the diary is filling up with a variety of entertainment in the auditorium and the large function suite.

Let’s hope The Broadway is here to stay. A sprinkling of magic dust from the team behind Aladdin should help.

Aladdin runs from December 14-31. Tickets available online www.ticketsource.co.uk/thebroadway or by calling the box office 01733 306071.

Check out what else is coming up at The Broadway’s website www.thebroadway.today


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