Last week marked the launch of this years Birmingham Hippodrome Pantomime, Aladdin. Year after year Birmingham Hippodrome hosts the biggest and best pantomimes in the country. Packed full of stars, this year’s cast looks like it is going to go down a storm.
Playing the role of Aladdin is musical theatre star Lee Mead, and making his panto debut is a man who is no stranger to the stage, Marti Pellow as evil sorcerer Abanazar. Back for his third year in a row, Matt Slack will have the audiences in fits of laughter as he takes the role of Wishee Washee and Julian Clary returns to the Hippodrome to play the fabulous Slave of the Ring.
I caught up with Matt Slack and Julian Clary and discovered what excitement is heading to the Hippodrome this Christmas.
Despite Julian being a pantomime legend, this is going to be his first pantomime performing Aladdin. Michael Harrison, producer of the QDOS
pantomimes expressed his excitement to have Julian as part of the cast this year. “I’ve sat many times in the audience and admired this mans style and class. Julian provides one of the most individual and unique pantomime performances.”
Comedian Julian Clary is keen to start rehearsals for the pantomime, when asked what he loves the most about doing panto he responded “It’s the only time a year I’m with a huge company not on my own, and of course I like dressing up and wearing lots of make up.” He particularly likes the type of role he plays because of the audience’s reaction, he is known for making numerous innuendos throughout the show, “I like the fine line you can tread. I’m not particularly known as a children’s entertainer; I tend focus on the adults.”
Matt Slack is going to be returning for his third panto at the Hippodrome, “Not only that it is the biggest panto in the country and I love the Birmingham audience, they’re always up for it, they want a laugh and they make my job so much easier.”
Matt is known for his hilarious comedy roles on stage, he has also starred in various other theatrical shows such as Blood Brothers The Musical and Boogie Nights, I wondered if he had ever considered playing a more serious role on stage. “I’d love to play the villain, when you’ve done comedy all your life I’d like to test myself to see how evil and villainous I can be, I’d love to play a psychopath.”
Julian Clary told me he has tried a spot of more serious acting, “I’ve dipped my toe in but I like to get a laugh, I need that reassurance of hearing the audience laugh” when asked if he would be interested in something like The Importance of being Ernest he said “I’d love to, but I’ll politely wait until I’m asked.”
The Birmingham Hippodrome pantos get more extravagant and more spectacular every year, I questioned both Matt and Julian on what makes this years panto of Aladdin so special, Matt informed me “It is just so new, the set, the script and the costumes. It is fresh, I can’t repeat stuff I’ve done in the last five years so there’s lots of creative excitement which I’m really looking forward to.”
Julian is famous for his eccentric outfits, in Aladdin there are nine fabulous new creations of costume. ‘If I’m not on stage then I’m getting changed for the next scene” Julian told me, “I’d describe them as lavish, they are very spectacular. I am the slave of the ring this year so the costumes are all ring themed.” The costumes aren’t the only thing ring themed, Julian revealed he will be gracing us with his vocals, and similarly all his musical numbers are ring themed and include songs such as Ring of Fire and Single Ladies (If you like it then you should have put a ring on it.)
Aladdin runs from the 19th of December to the 31st of January so the cast will be spending a lot of time in Birmingham, I asked them what places around the city they want to visit. Julian said he is eager to have a good look around Grand Central,“It is fantastic” he told me. “We left from London Euston which is quite dreary really and then we arrived here and it’s like Vegas, “It’s like a big old space ship” Matt pitched in. “So we will be sniffing around there a lot”.
Aladdin runs from the 19th of December to the 31st of January at The Birmingham Hippodrome, tickets and information can be found here.