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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Aladdin is a big, traditional show, full of humour and opulently designed by Terry Parsons, who does panto sparkle better than anybody else. It has in Gerard Kelly a wonderful talent, who knows how to work an audience, extracting from a scene every last drop of humour and pathos in equal measure.

Kelly has 20 years of experience while dame Karen Dunbar is fairly new to the panto game. She is an effective Widow Twankey though perhaps needs to engage with the audience more. She seemed more at ease in the second half even though her hilarious Lady Gaga outfit looked decidedly uncomfortable. There is solid support from panto veteran John Ramage, a deliciously evil Abanazar in Gavin Mitchell and a terrific performance from newcomer Nicola Roy as So Shy.

There is an exhibition in the theatre's foyer presenting the history of pantomime in Scotland and Grande Dame Stanley Baxter is quoted as stressing the paramount importance of the story. Aladdin boasts one of the stronger plots yet Bob Black's script occasionally loses sight of both the importance of explaining the story clearly to its young audience and giving it a local flavour.

Like the Ugly Sisters' feet in Cinderella, songs tend to be shoe-horned into pantomimes, but can still be used theatrically to underline a moment. The choice of music is on the whole disappointing, although a big audience reaction is achieved from a comedy number written by the much missed variety star Jack Milroy.

Despite these reservations, this Aladdin is very entertaining and manages to hold true to the traditions while appealing to a younger audience immersed in pop culture and High School Musical. It will be interesting to see how The King's responds next year to the John Barrowman Aladdin in the larger, though decidedly less beautiful, Clyde Auditorium.

- Keith Paterson


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