Aladdin role for student

A DRAMA student from Shetland will be starring in a production of Aladdin in Basingstoke, Hampshire, this Christmas.

Francesca Leyland, 19, from Lerwick, will be playing the part of Jasmine in the pantomime, alongside Ray Meagher, best known to British audiences as Alf from the TV soap Home and Away, Pui Fan Lee from CBeebies as Aladdin and Billy Boyle as Widow Twankey.

Currently in her second year of a BA in musical theatre performance at the Arts Educational School of Musical Theatre in London, Francesca auditioned in early October when the company came to the college. She was not at all confident she would get a part, however.

She said: “There were 11 places for dancing and singing parts for a few different shows, so we all just auditioned for everything. But there are 22 girls in my year, so only half of us were going to get in.”

Although she is excited about the opportunity, it will also be hard work. She said: “I am the only person from my college starring in it so I need to be really professional and give a good example of an Arts Educational student.

Francesca will be directed by Ian Good, a top West End musical director who is about to direct the UK national tour of Hairspray.

She said: “I’m so excited, although it will be my first Christmas away from home as we’re performing right through.”

Francesca will be in action at The Anvil in Basingstoke between 11th December and 4th January. For more details go to


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