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Panto stars including Ann Widdecombe gather at Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre to launch festive spectacular

PUBLISHED: 15:30 19 September 2017

Cast members gathered at Lowestoft's Marina Theatre to lauch Aladdin, starring Ann Widdecombe and A1 boyband member, Mark Read.
 Picture: Nick Butcher

Cast members gathered at Lowestoft's Marina Theatre to lauch Aladdin, starring Ann Widdecombe and A1 boyband member, Mark Read. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Wishes were granted as the cast of this year’s fun-filled family pantomime congregated at the Marina Theatre to officially launch the show.

Fomrer politician Widdecombe will be playing the Empress of China, whilst Mia Richards will appear as Jasmine. Picture: Nick Butcher Fomrer politician Widdecombe will be playing the Empress of China, whilst Mia Richards will appear as Jasmine. Picture: Nick Butcher

Starring former Tory politician Ann Widdecombe and A1 boyband member Mark Read, Aladdin is set to dazzle audiences at the Lowestoft venue across December and January.

In her fifth pantomime performance, Widdecombe will play the masterful Empress of China, whilst Read will take on the hero’s role and look to win the affections of Princess Jasmine, played by Mia Richards.

Popular funnyman Terry Gleed returns to the Marina to perform as Aladdin’s brother, Wishee Washee, and their family is complete in the form of Widow Twankey, played by Fenton Gray.

Read will perform as the hero, and his arch-nemesis, Abanazar, is played by Darren Clewlow-Smith. Picture: Nick Butcher Read will perform as the hero, and his arch-nemesis, Abanazar, is played by Darren Clewlow-Smith. Picture: Nick Butcher

Completing the cast will be Aaron Spendelow as the Genie of the Lamp, Deearna McLean as Slave of the Ring, and Darren Clewlow-Smith in the role of Abanazar - Aladdin’s arch-nemesis.

Speaking at the launch on Monday (September 18), Widdecombe discussed how enjoyable she finds the pantomime experience.

“I always loved panto and I’ve never done Aladdin before so it’s a new venture. The cast is great so it’s going to be good fun,” said Widdecombe.

Aaron Spendelow as the Genie of the Lamp. Picture: Nick Butcher Aaron Spendelow as the Genie of the Lamp. Picture: Nick Butcher

“There’s always a worry that you’re going to forget your words or deliver lines at the wrong time, but the thing with pantomime is that it’s so fun and relaxed.

“This isn’t Shakespeare, so if something goes wrong everybody thinks it’s hilarious.”

Read, meanwhile, is relishing the thought of being on stage having performed as a singer and entertainer for 20 years.

Fenton Gray as Widow Twankey and resident funnyman Terry Gleed as Wishee Washee. Picture: Nick Butcher Fenton Gray as Widow Twankey and resident funnyman Terry Gleed as Wishee Washee. Picture: Nick Butcher

“I’m really looking forward to it - performing and entertaining is what I love doing,” said Read.

“The cast have spent a couple of hours together today and we’re all really gelling and getting on well.

“There’ll be hiccups along the way but when you have a good team and a good director - which we do - everything just falls into place and I can’t wait for opening night.”

There will be 32 performances of the pantomime between December 13 and January 1. Picture: Nick Butcher There will be 32 performances of the pantomime between December 13 and January 1. Picture: Nick Butcher

The sparkling shows, which are running between December 13 and January 1, will be directed by Richard Cheshire and choreographed by Helen Jeckells.

Anyone looking to book tickets for the magic carpet ride can call the box office on 01502 533200 or visit marinatheatre.co.uk/panto.

An evening of anecdotes and insight with Ann Widdecombe

As well as taking part in 32 Aladdin performances over the course of the Christmas period, the former Tory MP will be hosting An Evening With Ann Widdecombe at the Marina Theatre on Monday, December 4 at 7.30pm.

Ahead of the pantomime extravaganza, Widdecombe will be recalling her life, as well as highlighting the people and events that most influenced her along the way.

Having retired from politics in 2010 after the general election, she appeared on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing later that year and overcame some scathing criticism from the judges to make it into the show’s tenth week.

Widdecombe made her stage debut in 2011 and has also made an increasing number of television and radio appearances in recent years.

Tickets for the evening of anecdotes and fascinating insight are now available to purchase from the box office or online, and are priced between £20 and £22.

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