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Aladdin - Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Aladdin is a panto classic and this year Waterside Theatre at Aylesbury has pulled out all the stops to have you in fits of laughter. Aladdin is a fabulous panto and with lots of local references, including that A41, making it feel really personal to Buckinghamshire.

The story is of a poor boy called Aladdin who falls in love with Princess Jasmine. Of course, he could never marry a princess – especially as her father is obsessed with money. Aladdin lives with his brother, Wishee Washee and his mum Widow Twankey. Aladdin is offered a way to become rich quick, (and we all know that never works) but he is young and in love so he decides to help Abanazar and goes into the cave of jewels. There he finds a lamp and a magic carpet… but hold on a minute, you can find out the story for yourself by going along to see it.

Michelle Collins, probably most famous for EastEnders plays the Genie of the Ring and she is absolutely brilliant as the ditsy but fun loving Genie who isn’t all powerful but can help where she can. Abanazar is the traditional baddie so let’s all boo him. He can be quite fearful at times, just as a baddie should be, and Nicholas Pound plays him to perfection. Even Brian Blessed couldn’t do a better job! The Genie of the Lamp is Joel Ekperigin and he gives one of the best entrances ever in panto; coming in jumping, back-flipping and dancing around the stage. Of course Widow Twankey is one of the best drag queens in the business and is stunning – both on stage and off. La Voix encapsulated the role beautifully and makes it her own.

Wishee Washee is played by Andy Collins and is a star of three counties radio. After watching this show tonight – I am going to be listening in to him…one of the funniest people (of all time?) and he is skilled at interacting with the audience and ad-libbing. The Emperor is played by veteran actor David Whitworth and he is familiar in the role as he played it in Milton Keynes last year. Jasmin Walia plays Princess Jasmine and is the perfect princess. Every little girl will want her dresses and she is just lovely to watch. Her love interest, Aladdin is played by Danny Colligan and he is perfect in the role. Innocent and eager to please he give a great performance and has a lovely voice too. PC Pong is played by Chris Nelson (who gets shrunk and mangled!) but deserves a mention as not only is he PC Pong – he is also the director of the show. And what a wonderful show it is!

In tonight’s performance, as well as getting three kids from the audience up on stage they brought Andy Collins’ manager. He had to play a pretend rock guitar and I especially loved the touch when it wasn’t switched on and Wishee just clicks it to turn it on. Of course the kids get a prize but so does the agent – a big t-shirt that says ‘I rubbed Aladdin’s ring’. Absolutely brilliant!

So what makes a good panto? Well this is one of the best around so an excellent example of a great panto. Why? Well a good cast is key and you have this here – they all work well together and it flows naturally. It’s not rushed but timed well including time for audience participation. Christmas Cracker jokes are in abundance and of course are absolutely essential. Men dressed up as women are also a must-have for a panto and La Voix is the best in the business. And of course getting kids on stage to win a prize is always funny.

Watch out for The 12 days of Christmas song with a bra that was made to hold three. There was a lot of time given over to this – and rightly so as it was absolutely hysterical. We get to the toilet rolls and they get thrown out into the audience…of course poor Wishee has to run after them but the audience keeps throwing them around including up into the circle. When Wishee gets them back and finally gets back on stage, watch out – here come the water guns! You have been warned! It is a traditional part of panto and the squeals of laughter coming from the kids in the audience show that it is welcomed.

This panto has everything, fun and laughter, a love story at his heart, slapstick humour and even water pistols. Enjoy!

Aladdin is playing at Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury until 31st December 2016.

Photos courtesy of Barry Rivett

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