PANTOMIME villains fall into two distinct categories – there are the revolting ones like the Giant’s henchman Fleshcreep, and the glamorous ones, including the Sheriff of Nottingham and Snow White’s stepmother, who wear gorgeous costumes and mask their evil intent with a beautiful veneer.
And no panto villain is more glamorous than Aladdin’s wicked “uncle”. So when Thom Ford makes his entry – stage left of course – as the wizard Abanazar, expect glittering silver and black robes, a withering smile, arched eye-brow and spine-chilling laugh. And the home crowd will be cheering!
Thom, last year’s dashing Dandini in Cinderella, is back at Yeovil’s Octagon Theatre and, as the advance publicity announced months ago, “He’s back – and this time, he’s bad!”
Growing up in Yeovil, the Octagon was his first taste of theatre. He graduated from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in 2009 and has mainly worked in the comedy circuit as part of musical comedy group Four Screws Loose. Since last year, he has been working in the US and Caribbean with Disney Cruise Line, playing varied roles including Lumiere, Merlin and Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin. He also broke his foot (on opening night…) and got married!
Another home-grown performer returning for this year’s pantomime, moving up from Prince Charming to the title role is Purchase, who grew up in Yeovil and is the principal of Yeovil School of Musical Theatre.
Pantomime is about familiar stories and familiar faces, and two making their welcome return to the Octagon are the lovable Jack Glanville, an experienced stand-up comedian who is back in Yeovil for the fourth year, playing Aladdin’s hopeless brother Wishee Washee, and multi-talented Lizzie Francis as the Spirit of the Ring in her sixth Yeovil panto.
The important role of Widow Twankey, Aladdin’s mother, is in the able hands of Gordon Cooper, whose acting credentials range from Shakespeare to musicals to pantomime, including several seasonal shows at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre.
George Akid dons the blue uniform as PC Pongo in his favourite pantomime, Sorsha Talbot-Hunt will be a charming Princess Jasmine and veteran actor and director John Hester is the Emperor.
Aladdin runs at the Octagon from 7th December to 6th January. This year’s pantomime charities are Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance and The Foyer Club
Pictured: Thom Ford as Abanazar, Gordon Cooper as Widow Twankey, Jonny Purchase as Aladdin with Sorsha Talbot-Hunt as Princess Jasmine, and the line-up of principals in front of the theatre. Photographs by Len Copland.