THE magic of Christmas would not be the same without a traditional pantomime – and that is exactly what you are getting this year in Taunton.

Aladdin is the pantomime of the year at the Tacchi Morris Arts Centre in Taunton, who are welcoming back Sam Stay for a fourth year – to play none other than Wishee Washee of course.

Sam said: “This will be my fourth year at the Tacchi Morris, my main role is usually the cheeky chappy, the comedy character. And it gives me so much scope. It is the most fun – I get to mess about and shoot a water pistol at one point in the show.”

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Sam was part of the first class to start at the SPACE, next to the Tacchi Morris and so he is a bit of a local legend and loves returning to Somerset.

He added: “Wishee Washee is the brother of Aladdin and the son of Widow Twanky. He is the loveable rouge character, and some would say he’s not the dashing lead but he’s right up there with Aladdin. He brings the laughs and the energy and moves the panto along in the places that he needs to.”

Someone who won’t bring the laughs of course is Abanazar and playing the evil villain this year is Ashley Rossquin. Abanazer, also known as Jafar, is seeking the lamp so that he can use the three wishes to take over the world, but does Aladdin find it first? (You will have to go and see the show to find out…)

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Ashley said: “I went to drama school and I studied musical theatre and opera. This will be my second professional panto – so twice I have been the bad guy. I do enjoy playing the bad character. My favourite part, apart from my song obviously, is the idea of the magic of the lamp being rubbed and the genie coming out and all the special effects and so on.”

Another actor who loves the moment that Aladdin meets the Genie is Matt Kennedy, who is playing Widow Twankey. Widow Twankey is Aladdin and Wishee Washee’s mother. She is a very firey character who is just looking for love – but does she find it?

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Matt said: “When I was four years old at a pantomime, I turned around to my mum and said ‘I want to do that’ and here I am. Panto is the best part of the year. You know Christmas is coming when there is a panto on. It has always been a family tradition of mine to go and see a panto and now I am in one.

“We’re learning the script at the moment and there is one scene between me and Wishee Washee and it’s a word play scene and it is about three or four minutes long and once we get it right, it is going to be amazing.”

Sam added: “There is a bit of confusion between Mr Who and Mr What and Wishee Washee doesn’t have two brain cells to put together. When it goes completely right, it is amazing stuff.”

Someone else who has to work on their timing is actor Ashleigh Payne, who is a dancer during the show – as well as a few brief scenes as PC Pong.

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Ashleigh said: “There are four dancers in the show. Pong is a comedy part – I love playing the comedy parts, there is so much you can do with them. Since I was little I have been in pantomime and recently I started directing a few for local theatres. Last year I went on tour with the Starlight group that went round to hospitals in the UK, and we did Robinson Crusoe.

“My favourite part of the pantomime is when Aladdin gets taken into the cave. There is a moment when Aladdin sings a big number too and I feel like everyone will get goosebumps for that bit.”

Louise Cannon, who plays Princess Jasmine in the show also love the songs – particularly the opening of the show.

She added: “It is a really great number and a really great way to kick off the show. I’ve done panto for the past five years. I was Princess Jasmine last year as well – but last year she was quite Disney-based. She is rather feisty in this pantomime though which is a nice change.

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“The cast are incredible, and it is a really lovely group of people. It feels like a little family already and I feel like that will come across to the audience as well.”

All the cast agree that their pantomime is better than the film adaptation of Aladdin…so see the show and decide for yourself. Aladdin is at The Tacchi Morris Arts Centre from December 6 until December 22. To book visit