TV presenter Melinda Messenger is the latest star to join the cast of an upcoming panto in Poole.
Currently starring in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, Melinda will trade fatigues for fun when she stars as the Spirit of the Ring in Aladdin, at the Lighthouse, in December.
And she said Poole was a place she knows well.
“I’m really looking forward to coming to Poole,” she said. “I used to come down quite frequently with my friends in my late teens/early 20s when we first learned to drive. The Harbour and Sandbanks beach – that used to be our favourite place to go.”
Swindon native Melinda, who shot to fame after appearing in a series of ads for a window firm, will be working alongside the Genie of the Lamp to bring the magic alive for audiences this Christmas.
“She is there to help balance the Genie out and give him a bit of guidance in the right direction,” the former Cowboy Builders presenter said.
She was offered the part after speaking to writer-director Chris Jarvis at the suggestion of Ionica Adriana, who is playing Princess Jasmine.
“It was so lovely the way it all came together. Ionica is awesome and she and I have worked together in pantomime before and had a really lovely time,” she said.
“She put me in touch with Chris and the way he spoke about it all and described how things work at Lighthouse and how the show is constructed and the ethos and the values of panto, it sounds really lovely. It’s all the things that align with how I like to see it.
“I can’t wait to start work.”
Since reducing regular TV work, Melinda retrained and now works as an integrative psychotherapist and dreams guide, providing talking therapies to her clients.
However, she said she is looking forward to returning to the stage.
“It is a total change of pace, but I like to keep a balance in life and this is very different to my other work,” she went on.
“I hear there’s a really good atmosphere in Poole for panto, which is so important. If the cast and crew are having a good time that energy translates to the audience and they pick it up.”
Tim Colegate, head of programming at Lighthouse, said: “We are so happy that Melinda is coming to spend Christmas with us in Poole this year.
“She’ll certainly bring glamour and fun in equal measure, and I know that as our magical Spirit of the Ring she will make sure our audiences have the best possible time at the show.”
Written and directed by CBeebies star Chris Jarvis, who will also play Widow Twankey, Aladdin also features Pantomime Award winners Andrew Pollard and Alim Jadavji, whose winning double act as the ugly sisters in Cinderella last year stole the show, as the villain Professor Pocus and Genie of the Lamp respectively.
Panto newcomer Benjamin Armstrong is Aladdin with Ionica Adriana as Princess Jasmine and Bournemouth-born Josh Haberfield as the comic character Wishee-Washee.
James Smith and Darren Reeves both return as production designer and musical supervisor respectively.
Aladdin opens on Thursday, December 7, and runs until New Year’s Eve. Tickets are on sale now at www.lighthousepoole.co.uk, or by calling 01202 280000.