Eastern delights in panto show


theatre Royal Wakefield has a fine tradition of pantomimes, and this year’s offering, Aladdin, proved no exception to the rule.

A brilliantly colourful set and costumes lit up the stage for a festive, fun-packed evening.

In this version, Aladdin (Benjamin Brook) defies an order to leave the market so Princess Willow (Lowri Walton) can visit without being seen by a commoner.

When her mother, the Empress (Johanne Murdock) finds out, she orders his execution, but Aladdin and Princess Willow have already fallen in love, so she begs Chief Inspector Woo (James Parkes) to help save his life.

Meanwhile, the evil sorcerer Abanaza (Brian McCann) is seeking a magical lamp, and poses as Aladdin’s long-lost uncle to get him to retrieve it from an enchanted cave.

However, when Aladdin becomes trapped in the cave, he accidentally unleashes the Genie (also James Parkes), who grants him three wishes, so he can marry Princess Willow – if only he can get out of the cave...

A panto lives and dies by the strength of its dame, and Chris Hannon, returning to Wakefield for his second year, is a fantastic Widow Twankey.

He got the audience in the palm of his hand from the start, and kept them there, and his double act with James Parkes worked wonderfully well.

And his costumes were just about the best I’ve seen, to boot.

Among the cast, Benjamin Brook and Lowri Walton made for a sweet principal couple, while Brian McCann was a snivelling villain.

The other real stand-out was James Parkes, particularly in his stint as the Genie.

As you’d expect, the panto was also packed with fabulous song and dance routines, with some really well-chosen numbers – particularly memorable was the Genie’s rendition of James Brown’s I Feel Good – ably-supported by a cast of local dancers.

With gags for the grown-ups and laughs for the little ‘uns, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Aladdin.

Aladdin runs until December 31, tickets are available from www. theatreroyalwakefield.co.uk or 01924 211311.