WATCH: West End beckons as panto magic rubs off on Aladdin star

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A FORMER student at Havant and South Downs College is taking up a starring role in a Christmas pantomime... oh yes he is!

Lee Backhouse is set to play Aladdin at The Groundlings Theatre in Portsmouth during the festive period.

The cast of the Groundlings production of Aladdin     Picture : Habibur Rahman

The cast of the Groundlings production of Aladdin Picture : Habibur Rahman

The 19 year-old, who also attended Charter Academy, said: ‘I have been in a lot of pantomimes, but this is my first lead role.

‘Pantos are just so much fun and I love getting the audience involved and having a real connection with them in the show.

‘It gives you this real sense of joy and achievement when you see how much they are enjoying the show.’

Lee’s dream is to star in the West End.

He said: ‘I absolutely love theatre and I really like doing comedy.

‘My ultimate goal is to be in the West End.

‘I recently fell in love with Kinky Boots and I would love to play a role like Charlie Price.’

He will join Emmerdale star Tony Howes and Richard Stride, who has appeared in the Star Wars movies, Gladiator and First Knight.

Tony, who will be taking up the role of Wishee Washee, said: ‘ I have done about 25 pantomimes and I love doing them because you never know what is going to happen next.

‘I love doing my own spots like with tap dancing, a bit of juggling and comedy.’

The main cast will begin rehearsing in November and auditions for local actors and dancers are this weekend.

Artistic director Richard said: ‘This year we are seeking local actors and dancers to complete our cast of professional actors.

‘Last year we had hundreds of actors and dancers audition and expect even greater numbers this year.’

Richard will also be taking up the roles of PC Ping and Genie of the Lamp.

He added: ‘ This will be the sixth pantomime I have directed and I have also been in lots of pantos as an actor.

‘In this theatre the audience get to sit on round tables and people can chat to each other, which they wouldn’t usually do with row seating. And I love the fact that the audience really make the performance so special.’

The pantomime will run from December 9th until January 7. For more information visit