REVIEW: ALADDIN (Waddon Leisure Centre, Croydon) ★★★

In this whole review of Aladdin you will not be bothered by any silly “look behind you” quotes or cheesy “Oh no he isn’t ” tomfoolery…… your humble reviewer is not so childish as to resort to these kind of tricks. (Oh yes he is). Oh no I’m, ……er’ I’m sorry, just defending my self.

The traditional Aladdin story is, I’m sure you know, about a young middle eastern man called Aladdin looking for wealth and fortune, so that he can hope to take the beautiful, virtuous, princess Jasmine as his wife.

Aladdin’s cast include a hilariously vulgar Widow Twanky and her two sons, Aladdin, our hero, and Wishee Washee (guess which one is the butt of the jokes). Additionally there is the wicked, Abanaza to whom the words boo and hiss are not unknown and the beautiful feisty Princess Jasmine. Add a couple of touches of magic by a big friendly Genie of the Lamp, summoned by the traditional method of rubbing of the magic lamp and a diminutive magic girl called Slave of the Ring who is summoned by rubbing a magic ring and there, except for some excellent dancers you have the entire cast.

Aladdin, is played by funny man Abe Jarman, one of the friendly faces of television’s The Let’s Go Club. Jane Deane, who plays the Slave of the Ring, has starred in CBeebies on television and is a skilled juggler and unicyclist and has a charmingly sweet personality. All her talents are on show, but it is the singing of Old MacDonald Had a Farm that really excited the children.

Joining the CBeebies team was a talented cast including Steve Fortune as the outrageously camp ‘Dame Widow Twankey’, Steve Edwin as the wicked, evil ‘Abanazar’, KM Drew Boateng as the mighty ‘Genie of the Lamp’, Christina Harris as the, sweet as pie ‘Princess Jasmine’, and Jon Conway as ‘The old, Emperor of Old Peking’ the inordinately protective father of pretty Princess Jasmine.

The talented Dean Kilford as ‘Wishee Washee’ provided the continuity of the show, a master of ceremonies both encouraging the children to join in with songs and delivering the worse of the panto jokes and some of them were stinkers.

The cast were supported by an excellent ensemble of professional dancers as well as a number of equally excellent young performers from Q Productions in the local Croydon area. Q Productions is the sister company of The Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts (PQA), which is an Academy providing tuition for children and young people.

The children in the audience were at their most enthusiastic when singing the aforementioned Old MacDonald Had a Farm and when some scary mummies came on and started dragging off the cast. Children are notoriously difficult to keep permanently amused and so it is to the credit of the production that, at times the children were positively cheering and shouting with joy. I am sure that everyone had a good time and that, after all, is the point.

There were a few things I did not like about this panto but my main bone of contention was the unfunny, cheap gay jokes. Hasn’t entertainment advanced since the nineteen sixties? Having the dancers mincing across the stage in an exaggerated way, talking in ridiculous camp lisping voices straining for laughs, was certainly traditional, but not in any welcome way.

However the show was mostly good. Not the best but quite good fun. The children in the audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. I suggest that you take your children along to see it, I am sure that they will enjoy it too (“oh no they wo….”)…..STOP, I promised that there would be none of that stuff. Sorry everyone.

Reviewed by Graham Archer
Photo: James Spicer

ALADDIN plays at Waddon Leisure Centre until 31 December 2016