By Vanasri Sridhar | Opening Doorz Editorial | December 09, 2021

A Muslim Cinderella story, the world’s only Muslim Pantomime run by the international charity Penny Appeal has sold out in under 48 hours. Almost 10,000 tickets were sold, and an additional 5000 tickets have gone on sale with additional shows added to existing venues, and three more new cities announced to the UK wide tour!

Cinder’aliyah, a take on the Cinderella story, but with a twist, starts tomorrow, December 10 till December 23. Cinder’aliyah tells the story of a young Pakistani girl trapped by her wicked stepmother and jealous stepsisters Bushra and Shagufta. Meanwhile, the frivolous King and handsome Prince search the land for a mysterious woman who left her shoe behind at the Ball. Sounds familiar?

Written, directed, and starring comedian and actor Abdullah Afzal (Citizen Khan) this show is packed with British halal humour (mix of cultural Muslim and British lifestyle as well as faith values) from start to finish. In many cases, this will be the first panto show for many Muslim families. They will experience a festive British institution which is guaranteed to be a friendly fun day out, a captivating unique story with unforgettable characters, special guests, panto tricks, familiar songs you can sing along to plus so much more!

Anisa Butt and Aliyah, a different Cinderella

Anisa Butt who plays the lead role of Aliyah is excited about the upcoming shows which have created a huge buzz in the United Kingdom. “Playing the lead feels great. It’s very challenging. For the first time I’m singing on stage too,” reveals Anisa adding, “It feels nice being part of a story I’ve grown up watching.”

Cinder’Aliyah Cinderella
“Playing the lead feels great. It’s very challenging. For the first time I’m singing on stage too,” says Anisa Butt.

And what would Aliyah say to Cinderella if they ever meet? Anisa is tickled with the question as she responds, “Why did you run off with one shoe? You could have taken them both,” she laughs.

Getting serious, Anisa adds, “The story is written to show how Cinderella would be in a Muslim family. In comparison to the traditional story of Cinderella, the back story of the characters in Cinder-Aliyah has a slight change in it. Aliyah, the main character, is shown as an obedient girl who believes that difficult people can be good. The family is shown modern, but they still believe in a few traditional values.”

Throwing further light on the show, Anisa says, “The characters are played by South-Asian cast… from different backgrounds but Asian which is uncommon since generally such characters are played by a Caucasian cast. The diversity in the cast gave the opportunity for the writer and director Abdullah Afzal to add a “desi” touch to the traditional story. The dialogues are in English with a mix of a few Hindi-Punjabi words. It also has Hindi songs.”

Sold out before the shows

Shows are already sold out in all major cities including Manchester, Bradford, London, Blackburn and Birmingham. Families are desperately calling and jamming the Penny Appeal donation lines to try and buy more tickets, as well as booking tickets online for this year’s show, which is in aid of Penny Appeal’s Emergency Winter Appeal.

Penny Appeal founder, Adeem Younis say, “’Tis the season for Muslims too. Our sold-out panto has seen thousands of families across the country rush to get tickets for the world’s first and only Muslim panto, in aid of our life-saving winter campaign, helping the most vulnerable, worldwide.”

Abdullah Afzal, actor, director, and writer of Cinder’Aliyah says, “As a proud British Actor of BBC fame, it’s amazing to be given such a warm welcome from the community who have made me who I am today.”

Touring cities with 16 shows this December, this pantomime promises to warm your hearts and souls during these cold days and nights while providing support for the most vulnerable.

This year’s panto is in aid of Penny Appeal’s Winter Emergency campaign, providing those most in need with lifesaving winter aid including hot food, clothing and blankets.

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