First time Aladdin lands panto ‘Oscar’


Benjamin Armstrong, the star of last year’s in-house production of Aladdin at Lighthouse Poole, was deservedly named Best Newcomer at the annual Pantomime Awards last night at Guildford’s G Live venue.

Holding off stellar competition from the likes of acting legend David Suchet and Strictly star Kevin Clifton, among others, Ben received his award from presenters Ore Oduba, Angellica Bell and Myra DuBois.

“What a fantastic achievement, we are so proud of Ben,” said delighted Lighthouse Chief Executive Elspeth McBain.

“Aladdin was a fantastic production from beginning to end, and from the moment we saw Ben in the auditions we knew he was perfect for the title role. His singing, his dancing, his all-round performance, everything was so assured – it’s hard to believe it was his first ever panto.

“And now the judges agree he’s the best in the land.”

The success of Aladdin at the Pantomime Awards – the ‘Oscars’ of the panto industry – follows last year’s success for Lighthouse when Andrew Pollard and Alim Jadavji won Best Sisters for their hilariously memorable Nadine and Doris in Cinderella, which was also nominated as Best Panto, losing out only to Sir Ian McKellen in Mother Goose.

Both shows were written and directed by Chris Jarvis with the Lighthouse creative team including James Smith, production designer, choreographer Daniel Donaldson Todd and musical director Adam Tuffrey.

During the 2023-24 pantomime season, the third year in which the Awards have taken place, the UK Pantomime Association’s 70 judges had their biggest year ever, collectively visiting 259 venues, far and wide across the United Kingdom, to see more than 728 performances.

“It’s such a privilege and a massive thrill for Lighthouse to be recognised by our peers in this way,” added Elspeth.

“Huge congratulations to Ben, of course, but also to our dear friend Chris Jarvis – a panto genius – and the creative team of James, Daniel and Adam who are already working hard on Sleeping Beauty for this year.”

Tickets are on sale now for Sleeping Beauty, which runs from Thursday 12 December 2024 to Sunday 5 January 2025 at

Photo shows (l-r): Elspeth McBain, Lighthouse Chief Executive; Benjamin Armstrong, Best Newcomer to Pantomime: Tim Colegate, Lighthouse Head of Programming; Ashton Corbin, Lighthouse Programming Executive