Blackpool Pleasure Beach pantomime star and pop singer Kevin Simm is forced to pull out of opening preview of Aladdin but local talent Reece Oliver comes to the rescue
The show must go on...oh yes it does!
Pantomime star and Wet Wet Wet singer Kevin Simm was struck down with illness on the opening day of the Pleasure Beach festive production Aladdin but a little magic and the talents of local entertainer Reece Oliver helped to save the day.
In true fairytale fashion the 27-year-old singer, dancer and choreographer came to the rescue and stepped into the lead role with just five hours preparation until curtains went up on a special preview of the show at the Globe Theatre.
The audience, which included Paris Fury and her young family, were invited into panto land for the first of more than 50 performances of the traditional offering, which will be showing now until December 24.
Aladdin has been produced by Pleasure Beach managing director Amanda Thompson OBE and written and directed by Roger Hannah - the production had originally been penned for Christmas 2020 but postponed owing to lockdown measures and the closure of theatres.
Understudy Reece said: "It was five hours until the curtain went up and I was at home eating my porridge and had a call from the Pleasure Beach asking if I could step into the role of Aladdin and of course in the circumstances my answer was yes.
"My heart went out to Kevin who would have loved to be doing it but without second thoughts, in theatre it's something we've all been used to. We had to put a show on and that's what we did!
"The cast were fantastic and really supported me along the way and the creative team who went above and beyond to get it ready in rehearsals.
"Amanda and all the team have been dying to kept this panto up and running for 20 months so more importantly it was just so nice to see the theatre so full of people again."
Director Roger Hannah added: "We're finally here after the disappointment of last year - we'd just done our dress rehearsal when we were told theatre was told it wouldn't be going ahead and so we disbanded and all sent home.
"But we all knew we'd be back to do it all again and just thrilled now to be doing it now this year. We're here in 2021 with a new generation of children enjoying pantomime and that's the wonderful thing about it.
"Children know the stories, we're able to re-tell the stories with lots of laughter and fun and that's the wonderful thing about it."
Director of marketing for the Pleasure Beach Robert Owen told the audience it was with a 'heavy heart' former Liberty X pop group member and The Voice UK winner Kevin had had to pull out the opening performance.
The performer, understood to be suffering with abdominal pains, has been forced to as a precaution but is expected to rejoin the cast.
Robert added: "We'd like to show our support for Reece and the dedicated cast - as they say in showbusiness the show must go on and I'm sure you'll join me in sending our very best wishes to Kevin for a speedy recovery and a return to this stage."
Aladdin is now showing at the Globe Theatre for tickets visit https://www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/shows/aladdin-the-pantomime