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Aladdin (Hornchurch, Queen's Theatre)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Resident repertory companies are thin on the ground nowadays. One such is cut to the chase…, and its particular brand of ensemble playing and musical skills really comes into its own at pantomime time. Nicholas Pegg has written a fairly traditional version of the story of Aladdin, though one with some nice East London/South-East Essex touches, and there’s a catchy original score by Carol Sloman.

Villains don’t come much more evil and green-spotlit than Abanazar (Stuart Organ) and there’s an interesting doubling of Princess Jasmine and the Slave of the Ring by Natasha Moore, the latter a thoroughly Essex girl and the former quite a determined young miss. Wishee-Washee is conflated into Joe West} with [Matthew Quinn’s Vizier adding another knock-about element. I also liked Tom Jude’s cash-strapped Emperor, prepared to auction his daughter off to the highest bidder.

Widow Twankey gives Simon Jessop a chance to add substance to an array of different frocks – Mark Walters has produced a succession of fine sets and the costumes to go with them – and keeps the audience laughing. Oliver Seymour-Marsh has a good singing voice as well as the right sort of boyish personality for the title role. The Genie of the Lamp is Steve Simmonds. As well as a well-managed magic carpet ride with the intervention of one of those Chinese dragons to remind us that we’re in China and Tibet, there’s a hilarious chase sequence through the auditorium.


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