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Cast aiming to put on the perfect panto

A VILLAIN dancing in a t-shirt, a clip round the ear and a genetically modified rabbit...are some of the things you won’t see in the Solihull panto.

A VILLAIN dancing in a t-shirt, a clip round the ear and a genetically modified rabbit...are some of the things you won’t see in the Solihull panto.

Last week, I was invited to sit-in on rehearsals for Aladdin, which opens at Solihull Arts Complex tonight (Friday).

This evening Abanazar will have swapped his casual clothes for all-out evil apparel and a thick ear from Widow Twanky will have been reduced to a look of resignation.

“I’m not sure in this day and age it’s going to be acceptable,” says Malcolm Stent, whose popular show is now in its 20th year.

What’s fascinating about watching the cast - four days into rehearsals - is seeing the strands of the show being drawn together.

Alas, even in the privacy of the Arts Complex studio, the pumped-up bunny is all in the imagination. You can’t have everything!

After seeing a few of the song and dance numbers, I spoke to some of this year’s cast.

Diana Chrisman (Aladdin) and Holly Aisbitt (one of two genies) are sat chatting in the corner - I grab a seat between them.

Diana, 26, appeared in last year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk and said it was nice to be back in the borough.

“Sometimes people think that panto is just messing about on stage - I mean it’s a fun job, it’s relaxing - but there is more to it.”

Holly agrees: “In panto, the audience is an extra member of the cast. The opening night is a kind of live dress rehearsal.”

Birmingham-based Marcus Fernando is Abanazar and says he loves playing bounders and baddies. “I tend to get cast as the villain in panto, but I’m not complaining - it’s the best role by far. For a lot of people, panto is their only trip to the theatre in a year - so you’ve got to get a rapport with the audience.”

Aladdin will be on until January 9. Tickets are available from the box office on 0121 704 6962.

 

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