• Saturday, April 13, 2024

Entertainment

Aladdin pantomime with an all-white cast and offensive language branded ‘racist’ and ‘shameful’ amid diversity controversy

Aladdin is set in the made-up Middle Eastern city of Agrabah, on the banks of the river Jordan.

Aladdin Poster

By: Mohnish Singh

The Liverpool production featuring actor Scott Sutcliffe in the title role as Aladdin, Coronation Street star Connor McIntyre as Abanazar, Kelsey Beth Crossley as Princess Jasmine, and actor Nigel Peever as The Emperor has landed into controversy due to an all-white cast and use of offensive language.

Calling the production “shameful,” actor Irvine Iqbal wrote on Twitter, “ALL white cast in a production of Aladdin where the lyrics are ‘Come on down to our oriental town’ in the diverse city of Liverpool. This is diverse Britain! #Shameful,” he added.

Mr Iqbal said he would have refused to sing the lyrics, adding that actors should challenge “racial slurs”.

Musical theatre actor Benjamin Armstrong, who appeared in the West End show Rumi, tweeted, “I speak about casting authentic actors for Aladdin pantos a fair bit, but this goes beyond that… a white cast singing the line: ‘Welcome down to our oriental town’. This is 100% utter racism. I am disgusted. There is no excuse for this.”

Aladdin is set in the made-up Middle Eastern city of Agrabah, on the banks of the river Jordan.

The race committee of Equity, the actors’ union, said they were “shocked by a very white-looking cast”, adding calls for an “industry-wide panto conference”.

The UK Pantomime Association said, “The UK Pantomime Association and Panto Day are champions of pantomime and take seriously the need for innovation and progression in the sector, including the appropriate casting of performers from the global majority, and removal of racist stereotypes which have historically been depicted in pantomimes. We have been made aware of productions of Aladdin that employ racist stereotypes. There is no place for such casting, writing, and directing in the pantomime industry today. The UK Pantomime Association will be holding the first of its annual pantomime symposiums in association with Staffordshire University in February 2023 and can confirm that there will be a panel addressing inclusivity, diversity, and representation.”

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