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Aladdin (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry)

Annette Nuttall gives the thumbs up to this years Belgarde pantomime

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Craig Hollingsworth (Wishee Washee) and Iain Lauchlan (Widow Twankey)
© Belgrade Theatre

Aladdin is one of the pantomime favourites and this production at the Belgrade theatre grabs you from the start with colour and sparkle.

This is a traditional pantomime story told in the traditional way with a female principal boy (Morna Macpherson) and a dame (Iain Lauchlan). Everything you expect from a pantomime is here, plenty of audience participation, a slap stick scene, a song sheet, local references, topical jokes and bright and precise dance routines.

Widow Twankey (Lauchlan, who also wrote and directed the show) has amazing array of stunning costumes that get bigger and bolder as the evening progresses. Add this to an experienced command of the stage and audience and you get a perfect dame. Every pantomime has a bad guy, this time of course it is Abanazer played by Siôn Lloyd. Not only is he a devious villain who you love to boo, but his singing is impressive too. Aladdin is the poor boy come good portrayed convincingly by Morna Macpherson as the characters confidence grows through the show. Every character brings something else to the stage, Wishee has a bond with the kids with his rap, the Forgetful Emperor and his little gong raise many a smile, The Genie and the Slave of the Ring add a funky magical sparkle and Jasmine is a gentle but strong princess that every girl wants to be.

Once again the sets transport you to a Peking market, palace and laundry, an enchanted cave and may other places. Every set is stunning and detailed and a joy to look at while the lighting changes manage to enhance them further. Put an energetic cast of adults and children in front of it in equally beautiful costumes and you have a spectacular stage. One of the highlights of the evening was the flying carpet scene and ensuing dragon fight both worthy of a West End stage.

For a traditional Christmas family treat, you cannot go far wrong with this production of Aladdin.

- Annette Nuttall