"Engaging exuberant an absolute joy"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 11/12/18

“One thousand and One Nights” and none will ever feel quite like this.

Last year Paul Holman Associates and Worthing Theatres pulled off one of the finest pantos panto land could offer. “They will have to do it again then won’t they?” and oh yes they have! This time with Aladdin, which thrills its audience with non-stop interaction and a sprightly and talented cast, who milk their roles for every possible drop of comedy. If anything can set your lords-a-leaping, dames-a-dancing or cherubic cheeks a-glowing this season, this show can.

Engaging the young ones as a cheeky Aladdin, Lee Latchford-Evans of pop group “Steps”, later has grown ups on their feet to a medley of Steps songs. CBeebies “Let’s Play” star Rebecca Keatley is a totally charming Princess Jasmine and Natalie Turner as Spirit of the Ring uses her rhymes to maximum storytelling effect.

Comedian Vikki Stone’s portrayal of baddie sorcerer Abanazar is outstanding. No doubt kids in the audience, 40 years from now will still have fuzzy memories of her comically menacing voice and over reactions.

The cave scene is atmospheric and the Brian Blessed-possessed genie invites a communal gasp. If you’re in it for the story though, you could feel interrupted by a song here and a dance there and all the Wishee Washee nonsense at the hands of kids’ favourite Mark Jones. He regularly locks us into a pattern of call and response. We join in in spite of ourselves (and some quite bad jokes) because to do so feels just a bit more irresistible than it does ridiculous.
Leading Cabaret artiste Dave Lynn, as Widow Twankey revels in her daring dame outfits. Her lines have the usual dose of innuendo and her modern-day humour is spot on. But will her son Aladdin’s rise from rags to riches put an end to her need to ‘shop at Poundand?’

As the pantomime steams along, the stage is alive with gifted young dancers, a resplendent Emperor and delightful appearances by children as the memorable mini-police.

This is a magical show, not only for its golden lamp and sorcery, but for how it sweeps us along in a wave of shared joy, like a tide of togetherness rushing in and filling the gaps between members of the crowd.

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