20 years of panto at Milton Keynes Theatre
What goes around, they say, comes around…
Which is why, this year, the festive family entertainment at Milton Keynes Theatre is heading back to a favourite holiday time destination that is full of Eastern promise - Old Peking!
The last time Aladdin climbed aboard the magic carpet at MKT and set off in search of fame, fortune and the love of his life was back in 2015 when Hollywood celebrity, Priscilla Presley, as the Genie of the Lamp, swapped Graceland for Pantoland. But throughout the last 20 years Widow Twankey’s laundry has set up shop at the theatre on a number of occasions.
In 2011 the stars foretold that astrologer Russell Grant would guide Pop Idol Gareth Gates to the treasure and in 2007 all-time MKT favourite, Bradley Walsh, not only played Wishee-Washee but wrote and directed Aladdin too.
Though Bradley gave MK his Buttons the year before in Cinderella, cementing a place in the hearts of all panto audiences since, it was to be another seven years before he was tempted back, in 2014, to appear in Peter Pan as Mr. Smee.
But that wasn’t the last time he popped up in a panto at MKT. It was in 2016 when Bradley was in the audience watching Dick Whittington that he nipped backstage, found a crocodile costume and made an unscheduled appearance through the orchestra pit giving Kev Orkian, playing Idle Jack, the shock of his life. But Bradley didn’t fool anyone as to who the mystery croc intruder was and, to the delight of the audience, once he’d ditched the costume he climbed back onstage to say ‘Hi’ to Kev and the crowd.
Last year, at a performance of Robin Hood, the stars weren’t just to be found onstage. When National Treasure Barbara Windsor watched the performance one afternoon, Shane Richie, playing Robin, stopped the show and, along with the whole audience, led a heartfelt tribute and a huge round of applause to his former fellow Eastenders’ cast member.
Back in 1999, just a couple of months after the theatre opened, Paul Nicholas played Captain Hook alongside Birds of a Feather star Linda Robson in Milton Keynes Theatre’s first ever panto, Peter Pan.
And this Christmas, as MKT’s 20th anniversary year comes to a close, the magic, adventure and thrilling spectacle of a Milton Keynes Theatre pantomime will, just as it has done every year since 1999, once again brighten up the darkest of winter days in just two days’ time. Oh yes it will!
Aladdin runs from Sat 7th Dec to Sun 12th Jan at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Tickets available from the ATG website