ALADDIN at the Theatre Royal, Bath ★★★★ Graham Wyles 10th December 2016
Similarly Nick Wilton is firmly in touch with his inner ‘dame’; a role he in turn can rightly claim to have mastered. His Widow Twankey is, like Mr Monie, a lesson in timing. Moreover he has understood that as the dame it is not necessary to indulge in a great blancmange of overacting (Elizabeth Dennis’s gloriously colourful and witty costumes do that for him), but to play it as a (nearly) straight, if somewhat desperate (thex thtarved) lady of a certain age. The two stalwarts working together are a joy.
Providing the plot for all the jolly nonsense, Bill Ward, as Abanazar, gives the right sized dollop of melodrama to get the audience firmly on anybody else’s side but his with wails of boos at his every move. Loula Geater as the Slave of the Ring provides magic and glamour in equal measure with a performance of manicured precision. As if that weren’t enough, her singing is powerful, clear and adds a touch of class to the production.
The other standout voice is that of Gemma Naylor as Princess Jasmine. With Mark Rhodes as a bright and likeable Aladdin, they bring necessary sentimental goo to the proceedings as the unlikely lovers of Old Peking. Tom Whalley gave us an energetic P C Pong whilst Glyn Dilley was the amiable Emperor.
The whole concoction is nicely tied up with music from a tight sounding trio under Oliver Rew, and some crisp dancing. The little ones from the Dorothy Coleborne School were particularly charming, but with all the chorus line being as slick as you like. The set and lighting brought colour and atmosphere with the added bonus of a clever magic carpet ride.
Aladdin is everything a panto should be: a colourful family show firmly anchored in a warm-hearted festive tradition with a simple story and entertaining performances all round.