ESP’s Mikey Clarke loves Christmas and he loves a good panto, so to get the latest on this year’s production of Aladdin at the New Theatre, Mikey caught up with panto baddie Rufus Hound...

I’ve seen enough pantomime’s to know that they can be very hit-and-miss. When I saw The Wizard of OZ at The New Theatre, Peterborough back in 2019, I was blown away by just how good it was. I described my first 5-star review in the longest time as ‘a well-polished panto that felt like it had come straight from the West-End’. I meant every word.

Producers at RED Entertainment in association with Prime Pantomimes and the New Theatre, Peterborough can’t wait for us to see their high flying pantomime adventure, Aladdin this Christmas. After what I witnessed with the last panto, I can’t wait either!

The hero of the piece, Aladdin, is being played by newcomer Joshian Omana.

Pantomime Royalty, Bobby Crush will add a touch of glamour as Widow Twankey.

Mis-Teeq pop princess and star of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Sabrina Washington (left) will capture everybody’s heart as the beautiful Princess Jasmine, and making his pantomime debut is the top actor and comedian Rufus Hound, who headlines as the evil Abanazar.

Rufus explained, “I believe pantomime to be the cornerstone of British theatre and the highlight of many families’ Christmas celebrations. So, as theatre emerges from its COVID cocoon, I’m thrilled to be terrorising the people of Peterborough this Christmas as the evil Abanazar. Finally a chance to show people that Abanazar is the real hero of this story, and not that simpering wimp Aladdin. Now, where's MY lamp?”

During my interview with the comedian, I asked Rufus if being a villain played a part in him taking the role. “It played a big part,” he said. “In previous jobs I’ve always been given the Buttons-esque type roles - so when they asked if I’d like to play the bad guy, I jumped at the chance. Plus, after the last year and a half we’ve all had, I welcome the opportunity of being part of something that will make people laugh. Laughter is something we all need right now.”

I was actually familiar with the name Rufus Hound long before he was on our televisions. Many years ago I went to a live recording of a television show and he was the audience warm-up. Rufus had me laughing out loud throughout and was so impressionable that I remember his jokes better than I do the actual show that was being recorded. I wondered whether we’d be seeing his natural comedic talents make their way into the show?

“I dare say that some of my own humour will slip out,” he told me. “But to be honest with you, it’s not needed. The team involved in putting this show together are absolute professionals and what they’ve done is remarkable.”

Rufus continued, “So many people say ‘Oh, it’s just panto, it doesn’t need to make sense or have a high standard of professionalism or quality to it’ - but I disagree. Why shouldn’t you set out to make everything you do the best level of quality it can possibly be? Thankfully everyone involved in this show shares that outlook and I think the audience will genuinely be in for a real treat.”

With sparkling scenery, spectacular special effects, dazzling dance routines, cracking costumes and a laugh-out-loud script, Aladdin has something for everyone. So get ready to be whisked away on a magic carpet to the land of make-believe during one of their many shows running from December 15 - 30.

Theatre Director Richie Ross at New Theatre Peterborough said - “We cannot wait to deliver the locally focused and fun panto that we all missed and longed for last year, and this year's Aladdin promises to be a blockbusting spectacle.”

I asked Rufus if he had any final words before we parted ways. He enthusiastically told me, “I still have vivid memories of being at panto as a child, shouting out to Des O'Connor and just having a great time. It means a lot to me that I’ll be a part of something that the audiences will remember for the longest time too. I hope the people of Peterborough and beyond are ready to have their socks knocked off because that’s what I and everyone else involved in the show is striving for.”

For full details and to book your tickets, visit

Mikey Clarke