Panto's back at De Montfort Hall – after 18 years
De Montfort Hall has revealed it will stage Aladdin as its 2013 Christmas panto – and tickets go on sale today.
In exactly 365 days, the show will open bringing the traditional festive pantomime back to the city venue after an 18-year absence.
The last time De Montfort Hall staged a pantomime was in 1994, when families packed the 1,100-seater auditorium to see Cinderella with EastEnders star Steve McFadden, who plays Phil Mitchell.
Venue bosses expect about 42,000 tickets to be snapped up before Christmas next year.
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General manager Antony Flint said: "I'm really pleased to be able to bring a large scale pantomime back into the city.
"I'm a huge fan of panto and want to recreate the tradition of families coming to see the De Montfort Hall panto as an intrinsic part of their Christmas celebrations.
"It will have everything you would expect from a panto, with an added twist here and there.
"It'll be great fun and is priced to make it as affordable as we can to allow as many people as possible to attend."
The leading roles will be confirmed in the spring, while the rest of the casting will be held by audition, with open auditions for the dance ensemble teams taking place in September.
The production has been written by Susie McKenna, the creative director at the Hackney Empire, in London, who grew up in Leicester.
Mr Flint said: "With 2013 also marking our centenary year it seems the perfect time for panto to make a return to the hall."
Mercury theatre critic Lizz Brain said the reintroduction of the traditional Christmas pantomime will test the loyalty of festive audiences.
"For many years, Curve, and previously the Haymarket, and De Montfort Hall have both offered big musicals over the Christmas period, while those wanting professional panto have had to go to Nottingham, Birmingham and Northampton for the big celebrity-pantomimes – or venues like Loughborough Town Hall for more family-orientated versions.
"I hope De Montfort Hall can keep some of those panto-lovers in Leicestershire next year, while Curve can cater to the musical fans.
"Then the city's theatre scene really can cater to all tastes."
Coventry-based Imagine Theatre are co-producing the show.
The company's managing director Steve Boden said: "We are all looking forward to playing our part in making the panto a core part of this prestigious venues programme once more."
This year's Christmas production at De Montfort Hall is Grease, which kicked off on Tuesday. To buy tickets, call 0116 233 3111 or visit: