Aladdin (Oldham Coliseum)

The Oldham Coliseum have done it again, producing an great panto – ideal entertainment for the whole family,

Aladdin publicity image
Aladdin publicity image
© Oldham Coliseum

Pantomime has always been a bit of a strange affair: the dame is really a man, the prince is a girl and no-one can sense when a monster is stood behind them. Yet for all its peculiarities, pantomime remains one of the most popular forms of theatre, and when done well is a riot of an evening or afternoon.

For many years now Oldham Coliseum has held a reputation for producing one of the best family pantos in the country. What it lacks in high tech effects and household names it more than makes up for in energy and fun. And the intimacy of the venue means that wherever you’re seated, you’re not that far from the stage.

This year the show is Aladdin and welcomes back some of the venue’s regulars, Richard J Fletcher as a likeable, Wishee Washee, Adonis Anthony as evil, Abanazar and Fine Time Fontayne (who co-wrote the show with director, Kevin Shaw) as Widow Twankey.

Fontayne, who you might recognise as Peter Barlow’s cell mate, Eugene Celland in Coronation Street, is a fabulous dame and holds the show together with an infectious energy. Widow Twankey speaks in silly riddles and wears increasingly outrageous costumes that could be characters in themselves.

The setting is a brightly coloured Peking and Widow Twankey bursts onto the stage dressed as a bowl of noodles, complete with chopsticks. The cast sing the Pharrell Williams’ catchy hit, "Happy", from the animated film, Despicable Me 2 and everyone is dancing in their seats. A couple of the song choices aren’t the best for the girl’s voices, but overall the live band has something for everyone, from raps to musical classics, and keeps the mood upbeat throughout.

The show has everything you could expect, with plenty of slapstick comedy, good clean humour, and shouting from the audience.

The audience is involved from the very start and although, with a running time of two-and-a-half hours, it feels a little long for little ones, but the children are with the characters until the end, and there are huge shouts of hurray when Aladdin beats Abanaza in a well choreographed sword fighting showdown.

The Coliseum has done it again because for a fun-filled family friendly pantomime, you can’t beat their Aladdin.

Aladdin is at the Oldham Coliseum until 10 January.