Hackney Empire has announced Aladdin as its 2018 pantomime and 20th anniversary production which will arrive in true Hackney style this Christmas as the venue marks its landmark year with the classic tale. Susie McKenna and Steve Edis celebrate two decades at the helm of the legendary pantomime which has grown to become one of the city’s most anticipated annual highlights and a champion for culture and community in the East End. Aladdin will run from 24 November 2018 to 6 January 2019, with opening night for press on 5 December.
A cast of stars straight from the West End alongside Hackney locals will bring to life the story of young Aladdin who dreams of finding love and making his fortune. Aladdin, which was last staged at Hackney Empire in 2009, will be written and directed by Susie McKenna with original music by Steve Edis, featuring dazzling sets, big song and dance numbers plus plenty of classic pantomime comedy all played out in the iconic Victorian theatre.
Susie McKenna said: ‘It’s been nearly a decade since we last told the story of Aladdin at Hackney Empire so what better choice for Steve Edis and I for this our 20th anniversary production. Aladdin has always been one of my favourite pantomimes. It is full of magic and whilst the traditional story will be there, this year our usual Hackney Empire take on things will see Aladdin make an epic journey to the frozen wastelands to save his family and the world! If someone had told me in 1998 that we would still be entertaining London in 20 years’ time I wouldn’t have believed them. But, like in a true Hackney panto, dreams do come true, and thanks to a family of amazing creatives, actors, technicians, Hackney Empire Staff and our amazing audience, we’ve become London’s number one panto, and helped rejuvenate a wonderful theatre to boot.’
All the way in Ha-Ka-Nay on the outskirts of old Peking, young Aladdin dreams of finding love and making his fortune. When he discovers an enchanted lamp and meets a mysterious genie, it looks like all his wishes are about to come true – with the help of A Monkey Queen, tap-dancing pandas and his larger-than-life mum, can he win the hand of his Princess and save the world? Or will an evil magician, some mad-capped policemen and a very large pile of laundry stand in his way?
It’s been 20 years since Susie McKenna and Steve Edis’s first pantomime for Hackney Empire, heralding the start of an award-winning partnership and the first of many productions for the venue. Now established as the number one pantomime in London, Hackney Empire’s annual offering continues to attract record numbers year on year, locally, nationally and internationally, with more people from Hackney attending than ever. The production was also seen by audiences from across the globe with international bookers increasing by 3% and an increase of 9% of bookers from outside London.
Susie and Steve have also collaborated on The Silver Sword, a musical adaptation of Ian Serraillier’s novel which toured nationally out of Coventry Belgrade theatre and a musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol both at Hackney Empire and the Arts Theatre in London’s West End.
Since leaving Hackney Empire in January 2017 after 7 years as Creative Director, Susie directed the World Premiere of Lil Warren and Jo Collin’s Oranges and Elephants at Hoxton Hall (nominated for 2 OFFIES) and is developing Martin Smith’s KING and Abyssinia the Praise Singer for production 2018/19, whilst writing a book on pantomime for Oberon Books.