EastEnders star Adam Woodyatt will take to the Wyvern stage tonight for the opening performance of Aladdin.

One of the original cast members of the popular BBC drama, Adam – aka Ian Beale – takes on the role of Abanazar, the wicked uncle in Swindon’s pantomime.

He will be joined by eight principals, five professional ensemble members and two teams of local girls all under the direction of Katherine Hare.

Katherine began in the theatre as an actress before switching to directing in her late twenties. She is currently the resident director with the West End show Bat Out Of Hell.

Pantomimes always involve a number of rituals and traditions and while not being particularly superstitious herself, Katherine is keen to uphold them. “You’ll notice the baddie always enters from stage left and the goodie should appear from stage right. Also the last line of a panto is never spoken until the final dress rehearsal,’’ she said.

Katherine says that the Swindon version of Aladdin has a special twist of comedy as the script was co-written by Neil Bromley, who plays Widow Twankey, and writer Tony Casement.

“We are so lucky to have an exceptionally funny script. It makes such a difference to have a cast member who knows the script backwards ,’’ she said.

Aladdin is a folk tale of Middle Eastern origin. It is one of the tales in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights

Taking the part of Wishee Washee is Gary Jerry, Rosanna Harris is Princess Jasmine, Adam Bailey plays Aladdin and David McKechnie is The Emperor. She says this is the first time she has worked with Adam Woodyatt and that it was lovely getting to know him. “ It’s always refreshing to meet people you admired on TV or film for years and to discover they are just normal people who want the best for the show.’’

Working with Adam may be easy, but the director finds that her biggest challenge is time, with only one week’s whole show rehearsal before heading into the theatre for the technical rehearsals. “I am fastidious with scheduling to capitalise on time. While I work on scenes our choreographer, Damian Czarnecki, will be putting together a dance number,’’ she said.

As for nerves on opening night the director says she just can’t sit still and spends the first act pacing backstage. “Any play I work on feels like my baby and the first time it leaves your hands, much like a parent, you feel a huge sense of trepidation.’’

Tickets for the panto, which ends on January 6, are available from 01793 524481 or more details from www.swindontheatres.co.uk