Aladdin's Genie-us comes to town

FLYING carpets, a wicked villain, a beautiful princess and Widow Twanky are set to grace the stage of the Ipswich Regent theatre later this year - while Cinderella comes to the New Wolsey.

FLYING carpets, a wicked villain, a beautiful princess and Widow Twanky are set to grace the stage of the Ipswich Regent theatre later this year - while Cinderella comes to the New Wolsey.

Bosses today announced this year's pantomime will be Aladdin for the 2008 season, following a customer poll.

Venue manager Hazel Clover said: “We asked customers to tell us what they wanted and Aladdin came out on top. We are delighted to announce we will be producing the pantomime.

“We had nearly 600 responses out of a choice which included Jack and the Beanstalk and Dick Whittington and Aladdin was by far the most popular.”

Miss Clover said Aladdin would be the Regent's fourth pantomime following Peter Pan, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella.

She said: “We have had a number of successful pantomimes and we are planning a spectacular pantomime for the 2008-2009 season.

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“The main characters are Aladdin, the villain Abanazar, Widow Twanky, the Emperor, the princess and the Genie so there is a lot of scope for special effects.”

Ipswich Borough Councillor Judy Terry, who has responsibility for arts, culture and leisure, said: "This is very exciting and we are all looking forward to another super show at the end of the year. Our pantos are getting better and better and we are confident Aladdin will be the best yet."

Miss Clover said expected celebrity cast members for Aladdin would be announced in due course.

Meanwhile New Wolsey chiefs today announced Cinderella would as the 2008-2009 Rock and Roll pantomime.

New Wolsey chief executive Sarah Holmes said: “Cinderella is a classic and it lends itself perfectly to the rock 'n' roll treatment which audiences have come to love.

“Cinderella was actually the first rock 'n' roll panto we presented at the New Wolsey back in 2001 when we did 48 performances.

“Since then the number of performances has increased year-on-year to 75 for Beauty and The Beast which achieved tickets sales of 99per cent.

“Cinderella 2008 will be our eighth rock 'n' roll panto and each year as our expertise develops so does our desire to surprise and delight the audience who can look forward to sometime exciting and inventive every time.”

The Regent's production of Cinderella, which included BBC Strictly Come Dancing Star and former Eastenders actress Letitia Dean as the fairy godmother, attracted record sales and an audience of nearly 35,000 people over the four week run grossing nearly £500,000.

Aladdin is to run from Friday December 12 2008 to Sunday January 4 2009. Tickets are available from the box office on 01473 433100.

Cinderella will run from Friday November 28 2008 to Saturday January 31 2009. Tickets go on sale on May 27.

Are you a fan of pantomime? Which is your favourite story? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The leading male - principal boy - is traditionally played by a young woman.

The pantomime dame - often the hero's mother - is usually played by a man dressed as a woman.

There are often risqué double entendres, often wringing innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases. They are meant to be over the heads of the children in the audience.

The audience takes part with calls of "he's behind you!” and "Oh, yes it is!" or "Oh, no it isn't!"

The audience is always encouraged to "boo" the villain, and "awwwww" the poor victims, such as the rejected dame, who usually fancies the prince.

The pantomime horse or cow is played by two actors in a single costume, one as the head and front legs, the other as the body and back legs.

The good fairy always enters from stage right and the evil villain enters from stage left.

The members of the cast throw out sweets to the children in the audience.

The original story of Aladdin is a Middle-Eastern folk tale.

Aladdin concerns an impoverished young ne'er-do-well named Aladdin, in a Chinese city, who is recruited by a sorcerer who passes himself off as the brother of Aladdin's late father to retrieve a wonderful oil lamp from a magic cave.

After the sorcerer attempts to double-cross him, Aladdin finds himself trapped in the cave.

Fortunately, Aladdin retains a magic ring lent to him by the sorcerer. When he rubs his hands in despair, he inadvertently rubs the ring, and a Genie appears, who takes him home to his mother.

Aladdin is still carrying the lamp, and when his mother tries to clean it, a second, far more powerful genie appears, who is bound to do the bidding of the person holding the lamp.

With the aid of the genie of the lamp, Aladdin becomes rich and powerful and marries the princess, the Emperor's daughter…..