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The perfect pantomime villain

By West Briton  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

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HE LED Voldemort's dark forces into the final cataclysmic battle in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, has played Dracula eight times and been villainous in everything from Our Friends In The North to Comic Strip's Mr Jolly Lives Next Door.

So there really is no better actor than Granville Saxton to play naughty Abanazar in this year's Hall for Cornwall panto, Aladdin.

Though he's hoping not everyone will boo him this year.

He told What's On: "When my grandson first came to see me in panto, he asked why the audience were booing grandad. He said to me afterwards, 'if you were nicer they'd like you more'."

With a mischievous grin, he added: "So I'm hoping not everyone will boo me this year. It is Christmas after all."

The tale of Aladdin is one of the nation's favourite pantomimes (indeed Granville prefers it as it's got a "proper story") and with a fresh new cast and lots of surprises, this year's show is packed full of festive fun for all the family.

Join Aladdin as he meets a genie from a magic lamp, fights for the love of the princess and rides on a wonderful flying carpet. Will Aladdin make his fortune, will he be allowed to marry the princess and will he ever be free from his lamp?

Granville said: "I love working in pantomimes like this where it's very much a company. You don't need stars – these days they are people from reality TV shows who have to hide their mouths to stop people realising all the singing's on a backing track."

Although he has been acting for 43 years and his face is well known from roles in everything from The Old Curiosity Shop to Brookside, Granville will be instantly recognisable to Harry Potter fans as a Deatheater in the final two Harry Potter films.

He said: "That whole experience was quite extraordinary. I was supposed to be working on it for three days, which turned into seven weeks. It's the nicest job I've had in my life; you're treated like royalty. Though there are no stars, everybody is equal.

"It's all very bizarre though – there is one famous scene where a snake slithers across a table we're all sat at. It only lasts three minutes but took 12 days to complete. I had to stare at a snake that wasn't there while Ralph Fiennes was sat with spots all over him, for the CGI."

Granville, who will be seen in the new Disney film Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie, is quick to defend panto.

"A lot of people decry panto, but it's a child's first experience of the theatre, which is very important.

"In this day and age when kids are looking at screens all the time, this is entertainment that comes out of the screen if you like and gets them involved. I will be getting out among them, which often leads to the best moments in the show. Some of the things they come out with ...."

Joining Granville is Drew Mason as Aladdin, who was nominated for the Stephen Sondheim Young Performer of the Year. His credits include Mamma Mia! (Prince of Wales Theatre) and the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Adding a very large dash of comedy is David Alcock as Widow Twankey. South African-born David has enjoyed a number of successful seasons at the Nuffield Theatre and 11 Christmas shows. Adding to the mayhem will be Nathan Guy as Wishee Washee, who has just finished playing Herbert Pocket in the national tour of Great Expectations.

Recently seen starring in Kneehigh Theatre's Steptoe And Son, Truro actor Dean Nolan will be appearing as the Genie. Dean has appeared in numerous productions including Miracle Theatre's Tin and Weekend Retreat, an award-winning film by Cornish director Brett Harvey.

Also joining the cast is Rob Glyn Jones as the Emperor of China and Suzanne Ahmet appears as Princess Saffron. PC New-Kee is played by Daniel Canem who has appeared in Oliver! at the London Palladium.

Aladdin will be at the Hall for Cornwall from Friday, December 14 to Sunday, January 6 – with evening and matinee performances available. Tickets are from £13 to £23.50, with family packs at £56 and £66. A £1 Theatre Fund payment is added to each ticket sold. Call the box office on 01872 262466 or book online at www.hallforcornwall.co.uk

Granville Saxton is pictured as Abanzar with Drew Mason as Aladdin in the HfC panto.

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