CBBC STAR TURNS KARATE KID FOR GRAND PANTO!
Talk about getting into character! CBBC host Barney Harwood has been training in mystical martial arts before he jump kicks onto the stage to star as Aladdin in the year’s enchanting family pantomime at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre from Friday 9 December to Sunday 8 January. Oh yes he has!
The BAFTA-winning CBBC star has been learning Muay Thai – the traditional combat sport of Thailand, which teaches both physical and mental strength in a gruelling daily routine. He has been training intensively in a special camp on the beautiful Asian paradise for a full three months and is now more than ready to tackle his role as the spirited Arabian street urchin Aladdin. The popular children’s presenter says: “I love to keep fit and be healthy and have always been fascinated with martial arts and wanted to explore that further and this opportunity came up at just the right time. It’s been wonderful to immerse myself in this new and exciting experience. It’s a highly skilled discipline and I felt like Tom Cruise in the Last Samurai! But I’m probably more like the Karate Kid to be honest… And now I’m more than ready for two pantomime shows a day at the beautiful Grand Theatre!”
Barney’s regular day job as a presenter on BBC’s flagship children’s show Blue Peter also requires him to be at peak fitness for a series of amazing challenges. He explained: “One day I am wing-walking at 4,000 feet and the next I am completing the 66 mile journey over Ullswater for stage 2 of the tour of Britain cycle race! That was the hardest thing I have ever done and I trained for 6 months beforehand with Team GB which was incredible. Next thing coming up is a top secret Blue Peter challenge for Children In Need, which again requires an awful lot of fitness and stamina. I can’t give anything away yet – but it’s going to be amazing!”
All this adds up to the fact that Barney doesn’t do things by halves. “I am always fully committed to everything I do it’s true,” he laughs. “I’m exactly the same with pantomime. I genuinely love it. Martin from UK Productions gave me my first ever role in panto and that is why I stay loyal to him every year – and also because his pantomimes are so very good. They are very professional and they stick to the original story each time, which I find very important. I love live theatre too as the audience is right there with you as part of the magic.
“I am really looking forward to being back with the UK Productions family again this year, but I do find it very difficult to work with Steve Royle sometimes!” he admits. “He is just so funny. I put him in the same bracket as Bob Monkhouse and Bruce Forsyth – he’s a great all round family entertainer. I can’t wait to be back on stage with him, even though he does change the script on me very often during the show to see how I will respond! I love that spontaneity and it makes each performance a real joy.”
Blackpool born Barney is also thrilled to be able to spend so much time in his home town over the festive season. “I’m so excited to be back in Blackpool. I have been popping back home as much as I can recently as my grandma has not been well. It will be lovely to be here for Christmas to look after her and spend time with my family.”
And Barney’s panto family this festive season will be TV soap regular Mark Moraghan (Holby City, Coronation Street); BBC Radio Lancashire and Grand panto legend Steve Royle; Radio Wave’s Hayley Kay; celebrated scriptwriter Philip Meeks (Emmerdale, Heartbeat, Doctors); TV actor and comedy poet Ronnie Leek and comedy magician Mark James in Aladdin’s enchanting tale of magic, mayhem and a most mysterious lamp, live on the Grand Theatre’s famous stage. It’s a fabulous, fairytale treat for all!
Cheeky hero Aladdin sets off on a thrilling quest to win the heart of the beautiful Princess, battle against evil sorcerer Abanazer’s dastardly dark magic and retrieve a mysterious, magical lamp. All the family will love this classic Arabian fantasy full of hit songs, hilarious dance routines and another rollicking good script. It’s jam-packed with music and dance, fun and laughter, a wicked uncle and, of course, an incredible genie. This fabulous, feel-good tale of love and courage is sprinkled with lots of seasonal sparkle and is the perfect way to experience the traditional magic of Christmas.
Will Aladdin and the princess ever find true love? Will the Princess tell her father of Abanazar’s dastardly dark plot? And, more importantly, will Widow Twanky ever get her washing done? Answers to all these questions and more await in the most spectacular pantomime of the season – Aladdin – at Blackpool Grand Theatre!
Following last year’s record-breaking pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Blackpool audiences are guaranteed another year of spectacular sets, dazzling costumes and side-splitting comedy.
Aladdin plays at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Friday 9 December 2016 to Sunday 8 January 2017 starring CBBC star Barney Harwood as plucky hero Aladdin; Mark Moraghan (Holby City, Coronation Street) as evil sorcerer Abanazar; BBC Radio Lancashire presenter and madcap comic Steve Royle as Wishee Washee; Radio Wave’s popular breakfast presenter Hayley Kay as Slave of the Ring; top soap scriptwriter Philip Meeks (Emmerdale, Heartbeat, Doctors) as Widow Twanky; TV actor and comedy poet Ronnie Leek as the Emperor and comedy magician Mark James as PC Pong.
Fly to the Grand Theatre Box Office right now, book your seats and watch the whole family be spellbound by Aladdin. It’s the perfect gift this Christmas…
Tickets are available from blackpoolgrand.co.uk or by calling the box office on 01253 290190.
Grand Theatre, Blackpool
Friday 9 December 2016 to Sunday 8 January 2017
Audio Described and BSL Sign Interpreted performance – Sat 17 Dec 2016 (2pm)
Adults: Band A £22.50/£16.50, Band B £22.50/£16.50, Band C £16.50
Children: Band A £22.50/£16.50, Band B £20.50/£16.50, Band C £15.50
Concessions (Band B) £2 off Top Priced Adult Ticket
Friends of The Grand: £15.00 all Band B performances
Matcham Monkey: All seats £11.00 (Sat 10 & Sun 11 Dec)
Family Ticket: £66*
Senior Pass: £56*
*Only available: 27 Dec(7pm), 28 Dec (2pm), 29 Dec (2pm), 2 Jan (2pm), 3 Jan (7pm), 5 Jan (2pm & 7pm), 6 Jan (2pm & 7pm), 7 Jan (2pm & 7pm), 8 Jan (1pm)
Group discounts available call 01253 743232
Running Time approx. 2hrs 20mins including interval (first few performances may be longer)