Nanaimo Theatre Group releases the genie in new production

Nanaimo Theatre Group stage Aladdin with director Jan Leslie making her directorial debut.

Bring the children, bring grandpa and grandma. In fact, bring the whole family. That is the message from the Nanaimo Theatre Group as they stage Aladdin, this year’s seasonal pantomime. The British pantomime, which features Aladdin, Jasmine, evil Abanazer, widow Twanky, a panda named Tyson and two genies,  debuted on Friday and will run from until Dec. 31 at the Baily Studio. “It’s pantomime, which is something that I’ve grown up with,” director Jan Leslie said. “It’s English tradition that every Christmas you all go to the pantomime.” Leslie is making her directorial debut and has no shortage of experience in theatre. She has previously worked backstage and in many other areas of theatre. “The only thing I haven’t really done is props,” she said.Aside from being the director of this year’s pantomime, Leslie is also the building manager for the Nanaimo Theatre Group. “I’ve never stopped working,” Leslie said. “I am involved in lots of shows all the time. I just love it. I just love the theatre,” she said.Planning and organizing for this year’s pantomime began in May. According to Leslie, pantomimes are typically harder to organize than traditional plays. “We have a much bigger cast than normal and you’re working with a lot of younger people who might be at school or involved in a lot of other activities as well,” she said.Over the years, Leslie has learned everything from how to put a show on stage. She said it is important for her to be critical of her production and receive input from her cast and crew. “I think it would be very arrogant of me to say I’ve done a wonderful job,” Leslie said. “I do know when things are working but there are times when I ask what can, I do to make this better. Maybe I don’t have the idea, maybe the cast does, or someone else within the team.”Leslie wants people to walk away from this year’s pantomime feeling as if they are part of the show. “A lot of fun and interaction,” Leslie said about the pantomime. “It’s so special because you can bring the young children, you can bring the family.”Tickets are available for $16. For more information visit or call 250-758-7246.