Former Hollyoaks star Melissa Walton has expressed her delight at returning to the stage this Christmas.
Melissa, 20, from Stoke Aldermoor in Coventry, will play the princess in Aladdin at The Deco Theatre, Northampton, between 30 November and 24 December.
She said: "I am thrilled to be performing in this year’s pantomime at The Deco Theatre. It’s a wonderful venue and close to home. It promises to be a great show and it would be fantastic if the people of Coventry could come down and share the experience with me."
A self confessed "big kid", Melissa appeared in many pantomimes while growing up, including Aladdin at the Priory Theatre, Kenilworth, and Mother Goose and Dick Whittington at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry.
She said: "One of my best childhood memories was spending time rehearsing for pantomime. I remember singing for hours and hours on end. It must have driven everyone mad, but I absolutely loved it.
"Pantomime is very close to my heart. It’s an important part of Christmas, which is a special time of year for children and families. My fiancé Ryan has a little brother and sister and they are both really looking forward to seeing the show."
For Melissa, playing the princess in Aladdin is a big departure from her role as Loretta Jones in Hollyoaks, who dramatically exited the soap in July.
She said: "Playing Loretta was a real rollercoaster of emotions. She was a stripper, a criminal and a mental patient. So playing the princess in Aladdin will be a lovely change for me. At last I get to play the nice girl with a happy ending!
"I love musical theatre - It’s where my heart is. That’s why I’ve taken the role at Northampton’s Deco Theatre. I’m really very excited about being back on stage."
Melissa will perform alongside Chesney Hawkes, whose hit single ‘The One and Only’ reached number 1 the year after she was born.
She said: "I am so excited about performing alongside Chesney. I remember singing along to his music when I was little and now I get to sing with him on stage. It’s going to be fantastic."
The organisers of Aladdin are equally thrilled to have Melissa and Chesney on-board. Kevin Roach, from Stage Right Productions, said: "We are over the moon to have these two big stars lined up for this year’s pantomime.
"Melissa is a hugely talented actress who won critical acclaim as Loretta Jones in Hollyoaks. The show is hugely popular with mums, dads and children alike, and I am in no doubt that she will wow the crowds at The Deco Theatre this Christmas."
The classic adventure story of Aladdin and his magic lamp will spring into life from 30 November to 24 December with flying carpets, genies and lots of comic mayhem.
Tickets start from £9.50. Special group and family discounts are available. To book, call the box office (Thursdays to Saturdays) on 01604 935678 or visit www.decotickets.co.uk.