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So Much Laughter!

Aladdin, Priory Theatre, Kenilworth. Runs until 31 December.

Review by Ann Evans

Wow what a show! I loved every minute, as every minute was packed with colour, spectacle, quick-fire, groan-inflicting jokes, laughter and a whole lot of audience participation. You can thank Widow Twanky for much of this. Mark Jefferies, playing the role of Aladdin’s mum was an absolute master of his craft in involving the audience. Looking around the auditorium it was a sea of laughing, smiling faces. Widow Twanky was so quick witted, reacting to everything going on in the audience. It really was a whole lot of fun. I’m sure the cast and crew enjoyed the show as much as the audience did.

This was a traditional family favourite panto with a little bit of 21st century technology thrown in, such as the Spirit of the Ring (Lisa Clifford) being a hologram. So with some sparkling new songs, the ever-popular slapstick scene, lively dance routines and spectacular costumes it had all the right ingredients for a great evening - and it was!

Must add that Widow Twanky’s costumes were hilarious and gorgeous all at the same time – and when a zip broke in one of her quick changes, she made the whole mishap even funnier – (or perhaps it was meant to happen?) Not sure, but her crab-like walk so as not to turn her back on the audience and reveal all, had everyone in stitches. The dress didn’t end up in stitches however – but a large bulldog clip came to the rescue!

Wishee Washee (Jake Leon-Paul) was funny and lively, and also knew how to involve the audience. Lots and lots of hilarious antics from him. Star of the show, Aladdin (Hannah Dodd) played her role with style and confidence. She had a fantastic, strong singing voice too. Princess Jasmine normally played by Alexia Mouzakitis, saw Charly Dade (Dance Captain) take the role. She played the role of the sweet young Princess really well, and her duets with Aladdin helped to bring out the best from her lovely singing voice too.

Abanazar was evil and dastardly and the audience thoroughly enjoyed letting him know what they thought of his wicked plans. The Genie of the Lamp, Paul Sanders, was genius. A sort of cross between Rick of The Young Ones and Mister Bean. His facial expressions and movements were completely whacky and hilarious. Good performances from all the cast in fact, Ruth Jones as Sergeant Leeky-Hill, Abbey the Princess’ companion (Shannon Nason) and the chorus of young dancers/singers were all excellent. The Priory have two groups of young dancers taking alternate performances – Knickers and Bloomers. On the night it was Bloomers who we saw and who performed brilliantly, full of enthusiasm and smiles, and looking lovely. Congratulations to choreographer, Claudia Temple and everyone else involved in making this such a successful panto.

Director, Mike Brooks said, “It’s been fun rehearsing, although everyone has been hit by flu, so there was always someone unable to make the rehearsal. At the last minute we had to merge the Emperor’s role with Sergeant Leaky-Hill’s role as Ken Reader had fallen ill. We wish him a speedy recovery. This production is special to me because Aladdin was the first panto I ever directed here ten ten-years ago, so it's nice to return to it and do things differently.”

Aladdin was almost three hours of pure entertainment – 7.30pm to 10.15pm, so there were probably some bleary-eyed children this morning. But I think most people would agree that it was well worth the kids’ late night for so much fun.

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