REVIEW: ALADDIN (Towngate Theatre) ★★★★★

Simon Fielding returns to the Towngate Theatre in Basildon for the eleventh year in a row, with his production of Aladdin. He is brilliant as Wishee Washee and plays to the children and adults in the audience perfectly. He is a bundle of funergy (fun energy – yes I’m making that a word here) and I didn’t want his performance to end. It is clear to see why he has been returning the the same theatre for so many years.

Sophie Laads (returning to the Towngate Theatre for the tenth year in a row) plays Aunty Banazar brilliantly, playing the Spirit of the Ring who (whilst waiting to be summoned by her master) works three jobs in Basildon to support her seven children (the ringlets). She hilariously transforms in to the evil villain in the show by wearing an unconvincing moustache and is utterly brilliant. Her version of No Good Deed from Wicked (complete with green spotlight) was also a welcome addition to the show. Daniel Stockton was everything you would want in a Widow Tawnkey, with fun and frolics galore and Sam Ebenezer and Marianna Neofitou (as Aladdin and Princess Jasmine) take the audience on the magic carpet ride of their lives.

Songs in the show are the perfect mix of musical theatre (Wicked/Dear Evan Hansen and a nod to Miss Saigon) plus popular chart hits from throughout the ages, ensuring there is something there for everyone in the audience. The jokes and well written and genuinely funny (most of the time) and there is some lovely choreography.

Aladdin at the Towngate Theatre in Basildon, Essex doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a big West End show. There are no huge celebrities or X Factor contestants shoes-horning in their best known song. But that’s what pantomime was like in the good old days wasn’t it? You didn’t go to see someone off of the TV, you went to have some festive fun with the family and this production is a brilliant example of classic pantomime festivities. Possibly the best panto I have ever seen!

Reviewed by West End Wilma


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