SINCE THE 1700s, when a Syrian storyteller told the tale of Aladdin and His Magic Lamp to French writer Antoine Galland, the story has enchanted and delighted generations the world over.
The story has become part of The Thousand and One Nights and has been made into films, storybooks, animations, and stage shows. The latest is Aladdin which takes place in the University Concert Hall, Limerick, from Friday December 20 to Sunday January 5.
Taking the lead role of Aladdin is Kamal Ibrahim, the RTÉ Lotto presenter, model, and 2010 Mr World winner. The cast also includes Adèle King (Twink ) as Widow Twinkee; Voice of Ireland runner up/Celebrity Bainisteoir Richie Hayes (Wishee Washee ), TV3’s Leanne Moore (Princess Jasmine ), Adam Lawlor (Abanazer ), RTÉJr Beo Show’s Donncha O’Dea (Genie ), Myles Breen (The Emperor ), and Richard Lynch (Chinese policeman ).
Aladdin is Kamal’s debut stage role and he is looking forward to the experience.
“It’s my stage debut in all senses of the word,” Kamal tells me during. “I’ve never been in a panto or been to a panto! However I have trained as an actor in London, done some TV work, and have many friends who have acted on TV so I’ve been asking them for tips.
“The preparations are very similar to preparing for TV work. There are rehearsals, there are lines to be learned and I’ve a lot of lines. It’s a two and a half hour show with 12 scenes and I’m in eight of them.”
In 300 years, whether as a story on a page, or as a Disney animated film, Aladdin has maintained its hold as one of the most enduring of folk tales. What does Kamal think is the story’s unending appeal?
“I think it’s the variety of what’s in it,” Kamal replies. “There is the hero, the beautiful princess, the typical baddy, and of course there is magic and the wonder of the genie. It’s also a rags to riches tale, and Aladdin as a poor man is something we can all identify with especially these days.”
Ultimately a panto is a family show and Kamal, who is also the Irish national ambassador for the international children’s charity Variety, is determined children in the audience come away having had a fun evening at the theatre.
“The rehearsals have been great fun, and you are doing this for the kids,” he says. “I have worked with children and around them I turn into a big kid myself. I’m not really nervous about doing the show. I have had acting training, I know the cast well, they’re a great bunch of people, but what I’m most looking forward to is performing for the kids, telling them a story, and having a laugh, and enjoying being something of a big kid again.”
The show has 2pm and 7pm performances most days with a 6pm showings on Sunday 22 and Sunday January 5. Tickets are a range of ticket prices for family, adults, and groups of 10. For full details on all showings, ticket prices, and bookings call UCH on 061 - 331549 or see www.uch.ie