Aladdin The Rock & Roll Panto

Peter Rowe
New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
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It's December, so it must be panto time ( oh yes it is, oh no it isn’t). And at The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich there is the usual high standard offering of their actor-musician version of the well known genre.

Unusually this year, it’s not directed by Artistic Director Peter Rowe himself, but Kate Golledge has followed the usual well-tried and tested format, so for those who like to know what to expect this is the usual smorgasbord of cheesy jokes, traditional characters, great musicianship and a fantastic choice of songs .

The gem in the mix this year is Cameron Johnson playing Widow Twankey, a tour de force of a performance that lifts the production a notch higher whenever he comes on stage. With great comic timing and a naturally funny delivery, he is certainly a highlight, helped by James Haggie as Wishee Washee, reprising his oft-played role as the fall guy / stooge of the production.

Also outstanding is Richard Costello playing bad guy Abanazer—plenty of swagger and sweaty palms here. Neil Urquhart is suitably cute in the title role and Hannah Francis- Baker makes the most of her role as cheeky monkey Cuddles.

The cast of ten work hard playing a variety of instruments as well as singing and acting. And all the principles have a couple of numbers through which to shine and this year there isn’t a weak voice among them.

If I had to criticise, I would say there are far too many ‘fart’ jokes—it all wears a bit thin after a while—and some of the humour is quite ‘adult’, although I guess it will go over the heads of anyone under 10. And maybe there are three or four too many songs so that younger audience members may get a little restless before the end.

But if you like a fast-paced, traditional panto with plenty of laughs and some great songs from the pop and rock 'n' roll charts including "Dancing in the Streets", "I’m a Believer", "Born to be Wild", "Close to You" and a great rendition of "I Will Survive" performed with gusto by Widow Twankey then book quickly as tickets are going fast.

Reviewer: Suzanne Hawkes