Celebrity Big Brother winner and former cage fighter Alex Reid is to take on his first professional panto role in North Wales.
The six feet tall, 13 stone martial arts master, kick boxer and actor is set to leave audiences spellbound playing the genie in Aladdin at The Stiwt Theatre, Rhos, Wrexham, from December 11 to 30.
Alex, who once starred in TV soap Hollyoaks and was formerly married to glamour model Katie Price, can’t wait to strut his stuff as the magical genie released from a mystical oil lamp by Aladdin in the cave of wonders.
He said: “I love traditional panto and I’m really looking forward to playing at a historic theatre like The Stiwt.”
He’s glad to be returning to the public eye in such a fun, family role after what he describes as several hurtful years at the centre of a ‘media pantomime’.
They followed two failed relationships, first with Katie Price and then with fellow Celebrity Big Brother contestant Chantelle Houghton, with whom he has a daughter, Dolly Reid.
Alex, 40, known as the Reidernator to his army of cage fighting fans, said he had battled hard to restore his reputation after being at the centre of a barrage of salacious tabloid stories about his personal life.
He said: “I’ve always wanted to be famous and I know that with that comes a certain amount of publicity but it can still be hurtful when headlines about your private life are bandied around day after day.
“It was hard to get acting work for some of that time and I returned to mixed martial arts and cage fights as a way of coping.
“Training, keeping fit, and putting my focus on surviving the next fight was my way of getting through.”
The high profile muscular athlete who competed in more than 300 professional fights has been a fan of action movies since he was a child. He always wanted to be a superhero but ended up playing the antihero when he was booed on entering the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2010. At the time he told TV presenter Davina McCall that he aimed to turn the boos of the crowds into cheers. He succeeded by winning that year’s competition.
Now he aims to win over the audience again in his role as the Stiwt genie who grants three wishes to Aladdin.
He said: “Being on stage in front of a theatre full of people doesn’t make me nervous. I love the adrenaline rush of it all. But I work hard at all the roles I play. It’s important to know your lines and with something like panto it’s vital to get the timing right otherwise a key joke or punchline might fall flat. Pantomime acting is a real skill in itself and I can’t wait to get my teeth into it.”
He said acting has always been a great form of escapism for him and after a few early TV roles and bit parts the Aldershot-born showman enrolled on a year-long course at Guildford School of Acting after being encouraged to do so by action hero actor Vin Diesel.
To date, Alex’s movie work has seen him win roles in the film Sliding Doors and as a stand in for Oscar winner Tom Hanks in the box office hit Saving Private Ryan.
He was also one of the most popular contestants on the TV series Gladiators and he’s now opened his own health and fitness juicing retreat in the tourist hotspot of Marbella
He said: “I’ve always loved performing, it’s something my whole career has revolved around. Even in martial arts and as a cage fighter there was a strong performance element involved, creating a stage persona and getting the audience on my side. That’s something I hope to do again at The Stiwt.”
Alex now lives in Hendon, North London, with his fiancee Nikki Manashe, but he has a sister living in Colwyn Bay and lots of friends in the north west as a result of his time on Hollyoaks, so he is looking forward to visiting North Wales.
He said: “It’s strange, I have travelled all over the world and been to some beautiful destinations but there are lots of places here in Britain that I have yet to see. That’s another benefit of pantomime and theatre work, you get to explore some fantastic towns right here at home.”
He said 2015 is turning into a good year for him with his magical new Stiwt Theatre role being just one of the highlights on his calendar. He also has a book due out soon, a movie role on the horizon and next year is to present a TV documentary about life in a small tribal community in Kenya.
Lee Kelly of Liverpool based LHK Productions which is producing Aladdin said he is delighted to have Alex on board.
He said: “This is a real coup for us. Alex is a really nice guy and will be great in the role of the genie. Everyone here is looking forward to working with him.”
This winter is the sixth year Lee and his team have produced The Stiwt pantomime and they are hoping it will be one of their biggest hits ever.
He said: “Tickets are already on sale and are selling well so we advise everyone to book early and make sure they get to see a great show.”
Aladdin runs at The Stiwt from December 11-30, with both matinee and evening performances. To book tickets or for more information visit https://stiwt.ticketsolve.com or ring the box office on 01978 841300.