REVIEW: Aladdin, Charter Theatre, Preston, to Jan 2nd

Junior reviewer Megan Smith (11), under Widow Twankey's wig, with her brother Cameron and the cast of Aladdin at the Charter Theatres, Preston.

Junior reviewer Megan Smith (11), under Widow Twankey's wig, with her brother Cameron and the cast of Aladdin at the Charter Theatres, Preston.

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I WENT to the theatre the other night... the plot was worn almost threadbare, the costumes were outrageous, some of the actors were ad libbing whenever the fancy took them, there were jokes from when The Dead Sea was just feeling a bit queasy, the audience were shouting out from the stalls, even hissing and booing... it was great!

It was, of course, pantomime, the seasonal treat that turns all the conventions of “proper theatre” on their head. It’s the one time of the year when audience participation is positively encouraged (just try shouting “He’s behind you” in a production of Phantom of the Opera – they get ever so shirty!).

Our family outing this year was to The Charter Theatre, part of the Guild Hall complex at Preston, to see a production of that age-old favourite “Aladdin”, written and directed by one of its stars, TV and radio’s Ted Robbins.

Naturally he played the dame, Widow Twankey, alongside other familiar faces from the small screen – Kay Purcell as the Genie, Warren Donnelly as Abanazar, Tachia Newall as Aladdin and Jodie Hamblet as Princess Jasmine.

Also giving a great comic turn were the energetic and talented Harper Brothers as the Chinese Policemen, Ping and Pong, plus a special guest appearance from Mr Bump.

But enough from me. Pantomime is staged for younger eyes and ears than mine, so it’s over to my daughter, Megan, age 11, to tell us what she thought...

I went to watch the pantomime production of Aladdin, written by Ted Robbins, who I have seen on The Slammer, and also performing was Kay Purcell, who I have seen on Tracy Beaker Returns, among other celebrities.

I really enjoyed this performance as it was funny, engaging and very well written. It is definitely worth a visit because all the actors were very good at what they do and, with the exception of a couple of Chinese policemen (ahem!), they were all also good singers, especially Jess (the Slave of the Ring), who won Search For A Star. I really liked her performance of “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga because it was exciting with all the fire coming up from the edge of the stage.

There was lots of audience participation, with cries of “Harry Potter!” whenever the evil Abanazar came on stage, as he thinks he is the greatest wizard in the world and absolutely HATES Harry Potter!

One of my favourite bits was when two of the fabulous dancers came on and did Beyonce’s “Put A Ring On It” in black leotards, when all of a sudden on came Ted Robbins as Widow Twankey (Aladdin’s mum) in a matching black leotard, struggling to keep up with the dancers; it was so funny! Another favourite was when they did their own version of “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” which, after they sang “five meerkats singing” the whole audience shouted “Simples!” like on the Compare The Market advert.

The Chinese policemen, played by the Harper Brothers, told some really shocking jokes and had a competition to see which of them could do the most popular singing, which ended up with one singing “Black And Yellow” and the other one singing dated songs that your average embarrassing dad sings when you’ve got your mates round.

All in all it was a fabulous performance with obviously dedicated actors, dancers and some really strong songs. I would definitely go again and when I got to meet the performers afterwards, they were all really nice and happy to have their photo taken with me. Fantastic!

Box office: 0845 3442012 Website: www.prestonguildhall.com