Familiar faces return to Coventry in Aladdin
Last week, the staff of the Belgrade Theatre welcomed the return of some familiar faces as rehearsals began for the cast of this year’s pantomime, Aladdin.
Iain Lauchlan will be returning to play Widow Twankey, following his popular performances as the Dame in our past two pantomimes. With a career spanning almost 40 years as a successful actor, writer and director, he will also be writing and directing the show. Iain is best known for producing BAFTA award winning children’s TV series, the Tweenies and has also worked as an actor on Fingermouse, Playdays, Storytime and Fun Song Factory.
Iain will be teaming up once again with Craig Hollingsworth, who will be playing Widow Twankey’s hopeless but lovable son, Wishee Washee. Craig and Iain have been a hugely popular comedy combo in recent pantos and hope to continue delivering laughter to audiences this year. Audiences will recognise Craig from previous Belgrade pantos in his roles as Muddles in Sleeping Beauty and Simple Simon in Jack and the Beanstalk.
Every panto needs a hero and who better to play Aladdin than Morna MacPherson, who is returning to play the leading role for a fourth time at the Belgrade. As well as playing a variety of costumed characters in children’s TV shows Jim Jam and Sunny and the Tweenies, Morna is an experienced fabricator and prop maker and worked on the latest Alien movie, Prometheous making special effects for the alien monsters.
Aladdin’s beloved Princess Jasmine will be played by Arina Ii, who will be performing on the Belgrade’s Main Stage for the first time. Arina played Princess Baldroubadour in last year’s production of Aladdin at the Royal Spa Centre in Leamington.
After playing the evil Fleshcreep in last year’s Jack and the Beanstalk, William Finkenrath returns to play the Emperor in Aladdin. William is an experienced theatre actor having performed in numerous productions for Illyria Theatre, James and the Giant Peach for the Royal and Derngate, Northampton and The Wizard of Oz for the New Vic, Stoke. Following a brief break from the Belgrade panto, Siôn Lloyd is back the baddie – Abanazar. Siôn starred in Belgrade pantomimes including Beauty and the Beast in 2011 and Dick Whittington in 2008, as well as other pantos for Loughborough, Windsor, Eastbourne and The Players Theatre, London.
Joanne Sandi and Marcquelle Ward will be joining the cast of Aladdin and giving their first performances in a Belgrade pantomime. Joanne, who will play SoShi and the Spirit of the Ring, has peformed in many pantos for venues including the Barbican and Cliffs Pavillion Theatre and recently played the role of Nettie in the musical Soul Sister at the Hackney Empire and on a UK tour. Marcquelle will be doubling up as the Genie of the Lamp and a Villager and has plenty of acting experience in TV roles on Coronation Street, Doctors, Tracey Beaker Returns II and Britannia High.
No panto is complete without its trusty ensemble which will once again be performed by Macey Cherrett and Aaron Gibson.