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Aladdin (St Albans, Alban Arena)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
If you ditch the concept of a traditional Principal Boy, your choice for the role of a devil-may-care hero is a wide field. ForBob Golding's production of Paul Handy's Aladdin, it allows popular children's television personality Paul Gallagher to be the treasure-seeking poor boy with an eye to the Emperor's daughter, and he makes it into an engagingly sparky part.

Shaun Williamson plays the greedy and devious Abanazar, too smarmy and much much too opportunistic for anyone's good, especially that of Widow Twankey (Sam Rabone) and Aladdin. This version gives the second comic role to PC Pongo (Golding) and dispenses (if that's the right word for a laundry lad) with Wishee Washee. Come to that, the laundry also has had a makeover and change of use.

Stuart Nurse's Emperor is more than the usual walk-on part and Princess Jasmine (Jemma Carlisle) is a bright lass who, not unnaturally, strongly objects to her father's matrimonial plans, principally involving elderly millionaires, for her. There are some good trick effects, cartloads of puns, all the usual gags, far more custard pies than usually grace the stage and a very good flying carpet.

The immortals are played by Nathaniel Morrison as the Genie of the Lamp, who somewhat overshadows Kelly Chinery's Spirit of the Ring. Michael Roulston's trio is tucked away to the side of the circle (accommodating a band in a multi-purpose space always presents a problem for shows involving multiple scene changes and a number of dance sequences). Helga Wood's sets and costumes are colourful and Jono Kitchens' choreography is a whirl of movement.


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