Pantomime is set to return to Manchester this Christmas, with a huge production of Aladdin.
The Manchester Opera House will welcome best-selling singer Alexandra Burke in her panto debut this December.
The X Factor star, who has been performing in West End musicals for several years, will star alongside Rochdale-born comedian Ben Nickless.
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Alexandra will play the Spirit of the Ring, while Ben will take on the role of Aladdin’s hapless brother Wishee Washee.
She has topped the UK singles chart with songs including Bad Boys, Hallelujah and Start Without You, after rocketing to fame with her X Factor victory in 2008.
Alexandra duetted with Beyonce during her run on the reality TV talent show.
Since then, she’s become a star of the stage too and has performed in The Bodyguard, Sister Act, and Chicago, and is currently appearing in Michael Harrison’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at The London Palladium.
Ben’s career started on the north west comedy circuit but really took off in 2006, when he performed his own style of comedy and impressions on the BBC television series Let Me Entertain You alongside Brian Conley and Christine Bleakley.
He’s taken on other pantomime roles at the Manchester Opera House in the past, including as Muddles in Snow White and Buttons in Cinderella.
The production of Aladdin will come from Crossroads Pantomimes and will feature spectacular special effects, live music, beautiful costumes and stunning sets.
Alexandra Burke on the current Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat set
Chief Executive of Crossroads Pantomimes, Michael Harrison said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Alexandra has agreed to join us in panto this year.
“She’s a first-class performer and her stunning vocals are going to add a whole new dimension to this year’s show.
“Coupled with the quick-wit of the talented Ben Nickless, Manchester audiences are in for a real treat this Christmas.”
Theatre director for the Palace and Opera House Theatres, Sheena Wrigley said: “After having to wait a little longer than usual for the fabulous pantomime to return to the Opera House, this year feels even more special for us all and we cannot wait to see families and friends enjoying the magic once more.
“There’s already a real buzz in the air and adding a truly special performer like Alexandra to the mix only adds to the excitement for this year – it can’t come quick enough!”
Further casting will be announced later in the year.
Aladdin runs at Manchester Opera House from Saturday December 11 to Sunday January 2.
Tickets will start at £13 and can be booked at atgtickets.com.
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