Aladdin - review by Connie Primmer

THEATRE-GOERS were given a festive baptism of fire at Milton Keynes Theatre last night, with a hilarious, boisterous and brilliant performance of this year’s pantomime, Aladdin.

Starring Gareth Gates as the perfect fairytale prince, the show was a dazzling array of fabulous costumes, comedy routines and of course some dancing, led by guest genie and Strictly Come Dancing favourite Camilla Dallerup.

It’s a traditional pantomime version of the Arabic tale of Aladdin, bearing little resemblance to the Disney film, but is kept fresh and modern with references to popular culture and a soundtrack of chart-topping numbers including Katy Perry’s Firework and Take That’s Magic.

Britain’s Got Talent finalist Paul Burling led the play as Aladdin’s mischievous brother Wishee Washee, keeping the audience involved and roaring with laughter, thanks to his likeable character and his fantastic array of impressions.

It wasn’t hard to see why Piers Morgan called him ‘the best impressionist we’ve ever seen on Britain’s got Talent’.

Aladdin’s washer-woman mother, pantomime dame Widow Twankey (John Barr) also provided some slapstick comedy, mainly centred around her (not-so)smalls, with an interesting routine involving balloons that is more for the adults in the audience.

The most hysterical scene was one which captured the true spirit of pantomime, with Major Pong (Chris Nelson), Wishee and Widow Twankey performing their version of ‘The 12 days of Christmas’, where toilet rolls flew through the audience and several unfortunate people got soaked by water pistols.

Gareth Gates poked fun at his former speech impediment but got his biggest laugh for missing his cue when he was distracted by Widow Twankey’s hand on his head, admitting, ‘Sorry I was just wondering what you were doing touching my hair!’ before desperately patting it back into place.

For all the fun and silliness, the cast are clearly very talented, and Princess Jasmine (Nicola Brazil), Gareth Gates and the evil Abanazar (Adam Pearce) complemented their acting with beautiful renditions of a number of well-known songs.

The wonderful world of Peking and Widow Twankey’s launderrette was irresistible to all, and the cast seemed to be having a whale of a time, which made it even more enjoyable for everyone watching.

Children will absolutely love the show, if the shrieks from the youngsters last night were anything to go by, and if they’re lucky they might be invited up on stage by Wishee Washee for a sing-a-long or manage to catch some of the sweets thrown into the audience by Widow Twankey.

You couldn’t ask for a better show for the Christmas season.

Climb aboard the magic carpet at Milton Keynes Theatre until Sunday January 15. To book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/milton-keynes-theatre or call the box office on 0844 871 7652.

Camilla Dallerup will hand over the genie’s lamp to fellow Strictly alumni Russell Grant, who will perform from December 20 - 24, followed by Anita Dobson from December 26 - December 31 and Camilla returns for all remaining performances except Friday January 6, Saturday January 7 and Saturday January 14.