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Arts

From soap stars to singers: Household names join forces for festive panto at The Forum

THERE are few places you will find one of the nation’s best loved soap stars rubbing shoulders with an X-Factor favourite and a member of Team Ricky from The Voice.

But for two weeks only stars of stadium, stage and screen will join forces for the annual pantomime at The Forum in Barrow – which this year is Aladdin.

The cast was unveiled today (Sept 30) as they met for the first time – and they are promising a feast of rip-roaring family entertainment over the festive period.

Among them is Bruce Jones, aka Les Battersby from Coronation Street; Sean Smith of X-Factor group, Same Difference, and The Voice’s Kelsey-Beth Crossley.

Joanne Marwood, Programming and Marketing Officer at the Forum, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with Shone Productions for a fourth year.

“The cast for this year’s panto is amazing – we have some real household names, and there’s someone for everyone.

“I’m reliably informed there will be some fantastic special effects, and with a condensed run this year, we are expecting tickets to sell out really quickly.”

The show will run from Sunday December 15 until Monday December 30.

Aladdin tells the story of the eponymous street urchin who lives in an Arabian city. He meets Princess Jasmine, the daughter of the Sultan, and falls madly in love.

However the Sultan’s evil sorcerer, imprisons Aladdin and forces him to work for him. Somewhere along the line, audiences may be treated to the appearance of a magical genie!

Steve Boyce returns to panto action at The Forum – after appearing in 2018 – and this year takes on the role of Widow Twanky.

He said: “Last year there was such a warm audience and they were very appreciative of what we were giving them. What we delivered last year was great, but this year it is going to be even better.

“The part of the panto which I absolutely love is telling the story to kids, but also ensuring that the adults enjoy being here.

“I think the thing with panto is that it is absolutely about innocence, and in a world where things are ever-changing, panto is a world of black and white.

“You know as soon as the man dressed in black walks out one side of the stage he is the baddy.

“And you know as soon as the lady on the other walks out in white she is the goody. You know that, no matter how bad it gets, by the end it will all work out and everything will be fine.”

Other members of the cast include Rikki Stone as Wishee Washee and Barrow’s very own Steve Low who will play the role of the Emperor.

Steve, a classically-trained singer who has appeared on TV programmes including Emmerdale and Hollyoaks, said: “With panto, it is the interaction with the audience which is great.

“You can see the joy on the kids faces and quite often it is a youngster’s first interaction with the theatre. If you can give them a magical experience, it captures them for the rest of their lives.

“This is the first time I have worked professionally in panto in front of a local audience and along with the rest of the cast, I am really looking forward to December rolling around.

“My message to everyone is come along. There will be lots of laughs, some great special effects and, of course, a chance to support the local lad.”

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