The stars of Eastbourne’s 2013 pantomime Aladdin launched the show at a meet and greet event last week.
Shaun Williamson, who spent many years starring as Barry in EastEnders, was joined by Martyn Knight, who traditionally plays the Dame in the town’s pantomimes, comedian Tucker and West End star Charlene Ford, who will be taking the title role.
Shaun, who also had a starring role in Ricky Gervais’ television comedy Extras, took time out from his busy schedule to make the trip to launch the Devonshire Park Theatre show and as well as dazzling a group of invited VIPs with an impromptu chorus of Bring Him Home from Les Miserables, revealed he is actually no stranger to the town.
He took to the stage here three years ago starring in Porridge and before his career took off and he landed a role in the BBC One soap as foolish and hapless second hand car dealer Barry Evans, he worked behind the bar in The Dolphin in South Street for three months.
“I am really looking forward to panto in Eastbourne,” said Shaun, who plays the show’s wonderfully wicked baddie, Abanazaar.
For Shaun and Charlene, who has just finished a run in the West End and got married last Sunday in Greenwich, this will be their first Eastbourne experience - unlike Martyn Knight and Tucker, who are both making welcome returns to the Devonshire Park.
Popular Martyn returns for his tenth consecutive pantomime season as Eastbourne’s favourite Dame and he is joined once again on stage by comedy partner in crime Tucker, who will be playing Wishee Washee.
Martyn, who when he is not treading the boards in Eastbourne, directs productions and spends time in his native Watford, said, “This will be my third time playing Widow Twankee so I should get it right.”
Charlene Ford, who has been appearing in Singing in the Rain, and is originally from Bexhill, said she was looking forward to learning her script after her honeymoon.
The stars will meet again when rehearsals begin at the beginning of December.
Eastbourne Theatres boss Chris Jordan said audiences were in for some surprises this year, including a flying carpet.
“Aladdin marks the 12th in-house produced pantomime for Eastbourne Theatres and the show will be packed with the trademark ingredients, live band, stunning costumes, corny gags and a touch of Eastbourne promise,” said Mr Jordan.
“We are extremely proud of our reputation as producing the best pantomime in Sussex,” he said, “the formula from the very first production back in 2001 has remained the same: an exceptionally talented class, top class script, superb live music and truly memorable moments.
“Each year the production team strives to bring bigger surprises and we’ve been proud and delighted to be part of people’s Christmas celebrations.”
Tickets for Aladdin are already selling fast with some performances already almost sold ou. They are priced from £12-£20. To book call the Devonshire Park Theatre box office on 412000 or online www.east bournetheatres.co.uk