X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke, and local comedian Ben Nickeless are among the names starring in this year’s festive pantomime at Manchester Opera House.
Promising theatre fans “everything you could wish for in a panto”, a festive production of Aladdin is coming to Manchester city centre next month, and will see Alexandra Burke make her pantomime debut as The Spirit of The Ring, joined by local comedian Ben Nickless as Aladdin’s hapless brother Wishee Washee.
Alexandra Burke may already be a household name in the UK – having sold over five million records with chart-toppers such as Bad Boys, Broken Heals, and Hallelujah – but she has now also established herself as one of the UK’s most sought-after West End leading ladies after starring in The Bodyguard, Sister Act, Chess, Chicago, and is currently The Narrator in Michael Harrison’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at The London Palladium.
Rochdale-born comedian Ben Nickless started his working life playing the comedy clubs in the North West, before his career 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, winning his episode.
Ben returns to the Opera House panto, after having already played Muddles in Snow White and Buttons in Cinderella.
Speaking ahead of the panto’s arrival in Manchester, Michael Harrison – Chief Executive of Crossroads Pantomimes – said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Alexandra has agreed to join us in panto this year [as] 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.”
Sheena Wrigley – Theatre Director for the Palace and Opera House Theatres – 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 is produced by the world’s biggest pantomime producer, Crossroads Pantomimes, and audiences can expect it to feature spectacular special effects, live music, beautiful costumes and stunning sets.
Aladdin runs at Manchester Opera House from Saturday 11 December 2021 to Sunday 2 January 2022.
Tickets prices start at £13, and you can grab yours here.
Featured Image – Palace and Opera
Kids & Family
Tyson Fury and wife Paris announce they are expecting their seventh child
Tyson Fury and his wife Paris have revealed that they are now expecting their seventh child, as per an announcement made over social media.
Amidst the ongoing saga between himself and Oleksandr Usyk following their title fight being called off earlier this week, an update that frustrated both Fury and fight fans everywhere, the Manc boxer took to Instagram to share some “fantastic news” that cheered him up.
Posting a story on Thursday evening, Tyson shared of the two of them on a date night along with the caption “God is great… 7th baby incoming”.
The pair already have three boys, all called Prince, and three girls, Venezuela, Valencia Amber and their recent child, Athena. Paris shared the story on her profile too.
Elsewhere, Tyson must now wait for his would-be Ukrainian opponent to fight Daniel Dubois in a mandatory bout before the two can meet at Wembley, which was originally scheduled to take place on 29 April this year.
Fury-Usyk had looked to be all but confirmed as early as December, but a dispute over the “material terms critical to the fight” has seen it postponed indefinitely.
For now, the 34-year-old from Wythenshawe has nothing to focus on other than becoming a dad for the seventh time in 14 years.
Featured Image — Tyson Fury/Paris Fury (via Instagram)
Kids & Family
There’s a big 3D animal egg hunt happening at Chester Zoo this Easter
Chester Zoo is gearing up to launch a new Easter egg hunt when schools are out next month – but there’s a bit of a twist.
With Easter right around the corner, and schools soon to be out across Greater Manchester, if you’re looking for something a little different to do with the kids that keeps them both entertained and educated at the same time, then Chester Zoo has got you covered.
The UK’s largest charity and conservation zoo is launching the ‘Really Wild Egg Trail’ at the start of April.
All set to be a proper “educational adventure”, the trail will see giant 3D eggs hidden around the zoo’s 128-acre site – but the catch is, each of the hidden eggs belong to animals that you might not expect to hatch from eggs.
With an interactive map specially designed by National Geographic, there’ll be a total of six hidden eggs to seek out.
Once little explorers have found all six eggs hidden around the zoo, they can then make their way over to the on-site gift shop to pick up a Nat Geo Kids magazine that’s usually worth £4.99 for free.
“This Easter you can expect something a little different at Chester Zoo,” Customer Development Manager Elinor Trigg said ahead of the start of the trail next month.
“From the largest lizard in the world to tiny invertebrates, this educational adventure will help to shine a spotlight on our world-leading breeding programmes that are helping to save some of the most endangered animals on the planet, while connecting children to the natural world.”
“We’re home to more than 27,000 animals here at our charity zoo,” she continued.
“The trail is a wonderful way to learn more about some incredible, endangered species and, at the same time, take part some Easter-egg fun.”