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St Albans panto 2017 Aladdin with Karl Howman - EastEnders’ Buster Briggs - launched by Alban Arena

PUBLISHED: 20:58 03 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:24 04 July 2017

Herts Advertiser reporter Anne Suslak speaks to Eastenders star Karl Howman who is starring in this years panto. Picture: Danny Loo

Herts Advertiser reporter Anne Suslak speaks to Eastenders star Karl Howman who is starring in this years panto. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Oh yes they did...Stars of this year’s St Albans pantomime visited the city to give a sneak preview of the show.

St Albans legend Bob Golding who is once again starring in this years panto. Picture: Danny LooSt Albans legend Bob Golding who is once again starring in this years panto. Picture: Danny Loo

Preparations are already underway for this year’s festive production of Aladdin at the Alban Arena, which runs from December 7 this year to January 7 2018.

And those starring will be very familiar to many in the audience, with St Albans legend Bob Golding appearing as Widow Twanky and EastEnders Karl Howman - who played Buster Briggs from 2014 to 2016 - playing villain Abanaazar.

Phil Gallagher, CBebbies’ Mister Maker, will take on the role of Aladdin’s brother Wishy Washy.

Mr Howman, who is starring in his first pantomime for 10 years, said: “There’s a structure and we all work to the structure but on the night there’s improvisation. No one show’s the same.

Herts Advertiser reporter Anne Suslak speaks to Mr Maker star Phil Gallagher who is once again starring in this years panto. Picture: Danny LooHerts Advertiser reporter Anne Suslak speaks to Mr Maker star Phil Gallagher who is once again starring in this years panto. Picture: Danny Loo

“I am most looking forward to the audience reaction - getting plenty of ‘boos’- and bringing my five grandchildren along to see it. The eldest one who’s 17 has seen me in panto before but the other four haven’t.”

Mr Gallagher, explaining his character of Wishy Washy, said: “I am the lovable brother of Aladdin, the real hero. It’s a different role for me this year which is really, really exciting. It’s such a funny show.

“It’s such a fun thing to do. For me Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the panto. What’s great about the Alban Arena is it’s such big audiences. It doesn’t matter if you’re one or 101, there’s something in it for you.”

This will be Mr Gallagher’s 13th year of doing pantomime but his 10th with Evolution Productions, the firm behind the show.

Aladdin writer and producers Paul Hendy and Emily Wood. Picture: Danny LooAladdin writer and producers Paul Hendy and Emily Wood. Picture: Danny Loo

He said: “It’s great to be back at the Alban Arena. I am back to family and friends. I love the staff who work at the arena.”

The title role of Aladdin will be played by Sam Hallion, while Princess Jasmine will be played by Lucy Kane.

Ms Kane said that she is really looking forward to seeing how the flying carpet will work on stage, while Mr Hallion said he is looking forward to flying on the carpet.

Mr Golding, who is appearing in the Alban Arena’s panto for the seventh year running, said: “My sons are Wishy Washy and Aladdin. There’s lots of widow jokes obviously but it’s a family show and we go over the kids’ heads and fly into the laps of the parents.

“I look forward to the panto every year. We’ve built up a rapport with the St Albans audience now.”

Mr Golding has lived in St Albans for 15 years and recently moved out to live on a boat in Bedfordshire.

Explaining what he enjoys most about panto, he said: “I am a team player so I think being part of a big family and a big team is the most important and most enjoyable, and the audience are very much part of the family too.”

The panto was written by Paul Hendy, who works with his wife Emily Wood.

He said: “It will be very funny, very spectacular. I’m trying to make it the funniest script that I have ever written.

“I think we have got a great cast. I worked with Karl and he played Aladdin and I played Wishy Washy. I remember thinking he was really good.

“Aladdin allows quite a lot of spectacle. The magic carpet’s going to be amazing. The way we are doing it hasn’t been done before.

“We pride ourselves on being great for families and adults. It works on two levels. There’s all the fun of audience participation for the children.”

The couple explained that the panto will be written to include both references to St Albans and topical events.

Aladdin will be at the Alban Arena from Thursday, December 7 to Sunday, January 7.

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