Paul T Davies reviews Aladdin, this year's festive offering from the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich.
New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
3 December 2019
Half lower your critical eye and unleash the inner child, its Panto season! And the New Wolsey does what they do best, with their Rock and Roll Pantomime, this year telling the well-worn tale of Aladdin. It’s so established that the elements don’t need to be changed, and although Peter Rowe has stepped back from directing duties, his script is well served by director Kate Colledge. The ensemble is terrific, moving with ease from playing their role to playing musical instruments, some more than one. The musical direction by Barnaby Southgate is excellent as hit after hit is belted out.
As Aladdin, Neil Urquhart has bags of charm and gets the audience on his side straight away, and Kate Hardisty is a perfect Princess, nice and feisty. For me, a Panto often depends on the Dame, and here we have a terrific one in the shape of Cameron Johnson as Widow Twankey, particularly the adult jokes which were pitched perfectly, going over the heads of the children bur having us adults in stitches. He makes an excellent pairing with James Haggie as Wishee Washee, with perfect comic timing and naughtiness; it’s a great shame that we see less of them in the second half.
Adam Langstaff is hilarious as the Emperor, Hannah Francis-Baker, hugely enjoyable as, (the real hero of the piece), Cuddles the Monkey, and Lucy Wells is a fine Genie. But best of all is Richard Costello as Abanazer, a great Pantomime Villain, fun, a little bit sexy, and not too scary for the children. His duets with Widow Twankey are a definite highlight!
The setlist is great- if you’re in your 50s! Once again I felt there were no contemporary or recent songs that younger members of the audience could sing along to. The tunes are classics, but I am sure I’ve heard some of them in other Rock and Roll Pantomimes here, and considering one of the best selling artists in the world is a local lad, his music is absent. The pace is greatly energetic, but once the plot is resolved, the show could lose a couple of songs and help the parents get the kids to bed a bit earlier!
All that aside, the show is great fun and the atmosphere is terrific. It has launched the Christmas season brilliantly, and you’re in for a toe-tapping, sing-along treat!
Until 1 February 2019