PANTO season is well and truly upon us, oh yes it is, and back with a vengeance is Bath Theatre Royal’s annual offering of comic capers, furious family fun and a baddie of wonderfully over the top proportions.
2016 brings us Aladdin, the classic tale of the poor soul who falls in love with a princess and will do anything to marry his fair maiden.
Mark Rhodes, of Sam and Mark fame, is our hapless hero and the Brummie presenter is the perfect leading man with energy, enthusiasm and a great voice to boot.
His aid and confidant Wishee Washee, played by Bath legend Jon Monie, carries this packed two-and-a-half-hour show with witty one-liners, hilarious slapstick scenes alongside PC Pong (Tom Whalley) and plenty of audience participation, as you would expect in any panto worth its weight in gold lamps.
Returning for a second year as dame is the very capable Nick Wilton, bringing Widow Twankey to life in all her huge-wigged glory, and between them Jon, Nick, Mark and Tom perform pantomime magic with their perfect balance of tongue-in-cheek humour and camaraderie clearly visible on stage.
Gemma Naylor, from Nickledeon’s Nick Jr Channel, does an admirable job as Princess Jasmine but it is the genie, or Slave of the Ring, played by Loula Geater who really steals the show.
Impressive throughout, Loula takes this action-packed adventure to new levels when she bursts into a no holds barred rendition of Hero.
Whilst Aladdin flies a magic carpet in the background, all eyes are on the blonde bombshell of a genie whose petite figure belies such a powerful voice.
Of course no panto would be complete without an evil sorcerer. Emmerdale and Coronation Street star Bill Ward plays the wicked Abazanar to perfection with both the loud, cackling cries all children want from a baddie and an enjoyable ability to laugh at himself which goes down well with all the parents in the audience.
Young dancers from the Dorothy Coleborn School fill the company and the set, as always in Bath, is a major achievement for a theatre of this size.