A hard-working team of children shine bright in the chorus, all ‘Busy Doing Nothing’ in Twankey’s Laundry. The hilarious chaos builds up to a side-splitting Olympic preview, ‘If I Was Not in Pantomime’, accompanied by a versatile live band. ‘Uncle’ Darren Reeves as musical director leads the audience into a singsong, ‘I’m a Lonely Little Petunia’. For school children there is a gentle nod to citizenship. Aladdin’s brother Wishie Washie (Howard Gossington) shares his sweets and gets children young and old to play his ‘ok alright’ game which makes us truly friends. The audience participation is oodles of fun and as is traditional in pantomime the audience plays an active part in the story telling. The promise of riches from Aladdin’s ‘long lost Uncle’ Abanazar, played by multi-talented Miles Western, inspires the hero to cross the UV lit desert by Magic Carpet to Arabia to find the cave. Widow Tabitha Twankey fluffs, folds and elaborates on their hard times; her husband was ‘like a lava lamp, nice to look at but not very bright!’ Her only hope of an easier life is the laundry being awarded the ‘royal seal of approval’. This potential change of fortunes is announced by the energetic slap-stick police officers Ping and Pong (Josh Capper and Craig Painting).
When Aladdin returns with the magic lamp the Emperor is more open-minded about the love that blooms between Aladdin (the hunky Michael Steedon) and his daughter Princess So-Shi. Their love blossoms as the crystal clear resonant soprano voice of the Princess (Charlotte Warren) sings. ‘Once You Lose Your Heart’ is a solo, spine-tinglingly lit by a single spot light, a part of Ashley Bale’s stupendous lighting design which has the audience bathed in more disco lights than Studio 54. But before the opulently dressed Emperor (Michael Remick) will consent to a wedding he has to meet the in-laws! As Aladdin leaves the Princess to look after his magic lamp a peddler enters the Palace offering new lamps for old. So-Shi is wrong footed and ends up in chains in Abanazar’s Dungeon. When Widow Twankey and the gang catch up with the beleaguered Princess it seems only a big box illusion will free her but only if the entire audience helps. Genie of the Ring (sparkling Lizzi Franklin) leads the spell aided by the Genie of the Lamp, played by Fraser Collins whose amazing vocal ability excels in the a cappella ‘Wonderful World’. Collins performs a roof-raising Disco medley which Tara Wilkinson choreographs with strong lifts and dynamite moves all brilliantly lead by dance captain Emily Whitehead. However, my Christmas moment is that audible sigh of relief when Simon Green takes to the stage as Widow Twankey and breaks into his first number ‘Sloshing in the Washing’. It can be delayed no more, Christmas is finally here.