For us nothing starts off the festive season better than a visit to the panto, and there could be a no more glittering, colourful and entertaining start than this year’s production of Aladdin – oh, yes it is! Chock full of good music, dancing and singing and the chance to exercise your own lungs with plenty of audience participation, it’s a grand tonic for both young and old.
Our old favourite Jon Monie takes the roll of Wishee Washee, throwing himself with gusto into the traditional slapstick comedy, as well as some more sophisticated asides delivered with aplomb just for the mums and dads, but appropriately laundered. He is a natural with children and when it is the turn of some of those in the audience to take the stage he puts them at their ease and makes them the stars of the shows for a few minutes.
Mark Rhodes, the well-know children’s television presenter plays Aladdin, serenading his Princess Jasmine (Gemma Naylor), and larger than life Nick Wilton makes a marvellous bosom readjusting, flouncy and floral dame, Widow Twankey, with a coiffeur to match each outfit. I loved Tom Whalley’s P C Pong, Peking’s resident plod; a mastery of comic performance and more wired than Basil Fawlty.
The Slave of the Ring, always at your service and thoroughly glamorous was Loula Geater who can belt out a great song, and Michael McGinn as the Genie of the Lamp sporting a rather fetching outfit drew as many wolf-whistles as her (now I thought those were banned).
So, to the evil, tooth grinding, eye flashing, fist clenching Abanazar! Bill Ward took him to new heights of darkness, hamming it up like mad and if there is such a thing as a “boo and hissometer” it would have been off the scale. He was my hero of the night and personally I think he is wasted in soap operas.....
Supported by a fabulous orchestra, singers and dancers, as well as the children from the Dorothy Coleborn School of Dance, who never put a foot wrong and were captivatingly cute, this production has absolutely all you could wish for in a pantomime. We loved it, and the programme is a worthy investment too, as it is packed with puzzles and games enough to keep you busy until Christmas!