Aladdin magic rubs off with record panto crowds

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On Sunday the curtain came down on the most successful pantomime that Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park Theatre has ever seen since records began.

The ‘Riotous Joy’ of Aladdin was seen by more than 30,000 who flocked to the Grace II listed theatre during the show’s four-week run.

The cast, led by Shaun Williamson, also included Eastbourne comic Tucker and the South’s favourite Dame, Martyn Knight (who celebrated his 10th year entertaining the Eastbourne audiences) in this classic tale from the East.

With box office bursting figures Aladdin is by far the highest grossing pantomime of all time, with a sales target that had to be increased even before the show opened.

Theatres artistic director, Chris Jordan, who has written and directed the last 13 pantos, said, “To say that we have been overwhelmed by the response to this show would be an understatement.

“We are very proud of our pantomimes here in Eastbourne and always strive to produce a show which is packed with the traditional elements including live band, live singing, the favourite slapstick comedy and plenty of surprises.

“Plans for the next pantomime, Beauty and the Beast are already in full-swing.

“2013 was an amazing year for us here at Eastbourne Theatres with a record breaking summer and to have the year close with the biggest pantomime we’ve ever seen it’s just the icing on the cake.

“We are grateful that so many people have come to be entertained by us and 2014 looks set to be another fabulous year of live theatre for Eastbourne with a particularly strong spring season of shows.”

The famous final night of pantomime passed with the usual assortment of fun and mayhem on stage with jokes played on the cast including; participation from the entire audience, unexpected guest appearances including Steve Hewlett and a special surprise for Shaun Williamson from his Life’s Too Short co-star Warwick Davies, who made a surprise video appearance ahead of his show See How They Run which will be at the Devonshire Park March 17-22, and a Shaolin boy monk made a truly jaw-dropping appearance with the children in the Song-sheet at the end of the show!

There were queues at the box office on Monday morning for tickets to next year’s Beauty and the Beast’s final night, which has now already sold out.

Tickets are on sale for all other performances of Beauty and the Beast and, judging by the response to last year,s shows the advice is book early.

Call the box office on 01323 412000 or online www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk