Pantomime Special: Aladdin at the O2

By Beth Allcock on December 13, 2012 11:21 AM |

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For the next few weeks, Jon Lee will swap the stage for the stars as he explores the O2's new theatre space.

And that's not at all surprising, as, last night, the former S Club 7 singer embarked on his second stint as Aladdin with the help of his trusty steed - the magic carpet.

Between "whizzing" around the stage and delighting audiences at the purpose-built 1,900-seater venue, Jon told the Wharf that the sparkling production of Aladdin: A Wish Come True, offered a mixture of "the old traditional story and the Disney one we know and love".

With a cast including Lily Savage as Widow Twankey and Issy Van Randwyck as The Slave of the Ring it boasts all the ingredients to entertain crowds both young and old.

And Jon explained, it is a tried and tested formula, after the same pantomime brought down the house in Southampton two years ago.

"It was pretty much all the same cast," said Jon.

"So it has been a nice reunion to get everyone together.

"It worked brilliantly down there and it was a massive success.

"There's a few different songs for this one, a few bits have been tweaked here and there and producer Michael Rose has gone full out - he spares no expense on costume changes and set design and he makes it a spectacular family show.

"He's a great guy to work for, and he loves theatre."

He added: "I have to say, I was quite nervous of working with Paul but it's not him, it's Lily I'm nervous of!

"But she's amazing, she plays my mum in the show and she's very motherly, and she really does look after me.

"I was always scared she was going to go off on one and not stick to the script, but Paul is a true professional."

Although those in their twenty-something years may know Lee best from his bubblegum pop days, his role in Aladdin - which he juggles with a permanent position as Frankie Valli in Broadway Musical Jersey Boys - has brought his career full-circle.

"My first job when I was 12 was playing Oliver at the London Palladium," he said.

"I went to Sylvia Young Theatre School and trained for three years and then went into S Club, which took me on a slightly different route but after that finished, I had a week off and went straight into Les Miserables.

"It has always been my passion and has always been where I wanted to be."

And although he is preparing for the release of his debut solo album in the new year, Jon said panto was a firm diary-date for his winter months.

"It wasn't until I was 25 I got asked to do panto and I was like why not, it will be a laugh," he added.

"Last year was the first one I hadn't done panto and I really missed it, it didn't feel like Christmas to be honest."

The Theatre at The O2, until January 5. Tickets from £19.50. Go to theo2.co.uk.

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