Pamela Anderson is magic in London panto 'Aladdin'

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The Independent Culture

Bouncing on stage in a skintight red outfit and pink platform shoes, "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson is clearly having fun in her British pantomime debut, playing the genie in Aladdin's lamp.

And the audience is also enjoying the spectacle as the Canadian star throws herself into the spirit of the traditional Christmas-season show enjoyed by everyone from children to grandparents.

This time, there are an unusual number of middle-aged men in the audience at southwest London's New Wimbledon Theatre, eager to see the curvaceous Anderson strut, wiggle and pout her way through her British stage debut.

It is not exactly high-brow stuff - pantomimes are stage versions of folk tales featuring singing, dancing, bad puns and plenty of participation from the audience, who boo villains and cheer heroes with gusto.

But sex symbol Anderson's involvement is a coup for organisers.

Most Britons expect to see a minor celebrity in their local pantomime, not the star of one of the biggest television shows ever, whose picture has reputedly been downloaded from the Internet more than any other woman.

Anderson appears to huge cheers, balancing on a trapeze and sporting fishnet stockings.

In this version of the pantomime, the genie that she plays "comes from Beverly Hills" and "always ends up with the bad boys" - perhaps a reference to Anderson's three doomed marriages, including to rockers Tommy Lee and Kid Rock.

Anderson's two-week stint in "Aladdin" runs to December 27.

Though she is back in the red costume of her "Baywatch" days, winter in Wimbledon is as far away from the sunny beaches of Los Angeles as pantomime is from Anderson's usual beat.

Britain's traditional Christmas pantomimes, knockabout musical comedy versions of fairy tales such as "Aladdin", "Cinderella" and "Snow White", take over Britain's theatres in December and January.

The actors, wearing outlandish costumes, run about the stage singing and dancing, while others hose the audience with giant water pistols.

Schoolchildren are brought on stage to sing, while the cast scatter double-entendres as the band plays on.

Hardly comfortable ground for Hollywood icons.

However, First Family Entertainment (FFE), which has already managed to bring American stars like Mickey Rooney, Patrick Duffy ("Dallas") or Paul Michael Glaser ("Starsky and Hutch") over to Britain to do a stint in panto, has pulled off an even bigger coup in bringing Anderson to the stage.

Tickets are few and far between for her twice-daily appearances.

After Aladdin rubs his lamp, the genie Anderson descends from the ceiling, about an hour into the show.

She sings Christina Aguilera's hit "Genie in a Bottle" and in a script made to measure, she announces she is "the most downloaded genie in the world".

When she drops to her knees to ask her master Aladdin "what can I do for you?" the audience falls about laughing, and is stunned by one particularly vigorous dance.

However, it's all family entertainment - unlike her previous turn on the European stage, riding a motorcycle at the Crazy Horse cabaret in Paris last year on Saint Valentine's Day, wearing nothing but a black body stocking.

Anderson has even visited the local pubs in Wimbledon during her spell in the suburb.

Her debut made for front-page photographs in Britain's newspapers and reviews have been favourable.

"As for Anderson, well, her prime function is sensuously, sinuously to palpitate, undulate, wiggle, wriggle and, told that evil hands all around are desperate to get hold of all she owns, to clutch with a smile at those celebrated boobs," said The Times.

"All this she does well. A pity she has to speak too".

The Daily Telegraph said: "Though Anderson has a talent far smaller than her bust, she proves a good sport in the show".

The Daily Mail said: "Well done Pam. Welcome to British Vaudeville".

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