Aladdin and his magic carpet are conjuring up some Christmas spirit at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre and the baddie in this year’s panto is EastEnders star Adam Woodyatt, better known as Ian Beale, in the long running soap.

Pantomimes always involve a number of rituals and traditions and while not being particularly superstitious herself the director Katherine Hare is keen to uphold them.

She said: “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.

Adam takes on the role of Abanazar, the wicked magician pretending to be Aladdin’s uncle. Other characters are Wishee Washee played by Gary Jerry, Rosanna Harris is Princess Jasmine, Adam Bailey plays Aladdin and David McKechnie is The Emperor. There are also two teams of local girls in the chorus.

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.

Her biggest challenge in this panto was a race against 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 was working on scenes our choreographer, Damian Czarnecki, was putting together the dance numbers,’’ she said.

As for nerves on opening night the director says she just could not sit still and spent 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.’’

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 and can help me and the rest of the cast deliver it in the best possible way.’’

Tickets for Aladdin which runs at the Wyvern until Sunday January 6 are available from 01793 524481 or more details from - Flicky Harrison

The curtain rises on Aladdin today and