Aladdin review at Waddon Theatre, Croydon – ‘sparkle and silliness’
Promising to keep panto alive in Croydon, director Eddie Dredge has brought a respectable, entertaining Aladdin to Waddon Leisure Centre’s comprehensively-converted sports hall space. Though the occasional lyric is lost somewhere between imperfect acoustics and overbearing music, Dredge keeps things moving at a jaunty pace, lavishing particular attention on a number of boilerplate set pieces.
The strong supporting cast put real heart into staples such as the bench routine – here featuring a crowd of lurching mummies – and a lengthy but lovely singalong with a batch of youngsters from the audience.
Steve Edwin’s villainous Abanazar has the manner of a disgruntled head teacher, and dreams of playing guitar in a rock band. It’s only a mildly evil aim at worst, and one he ultimately accomplishes during a punchy rendition of Alice Cooper’s No More Mr Nice Guy.
Children’s television personality Abe Jarman makes an eager, earnest Aladdin, while his CBeebies colleague Jane Deane demonstrates solid circus skills as the Slave of the Ring, juggling and unicycling during the musical numbers. These are ambitiously, faultlessly choreographed by Lainie Baird. Bookending the interval, two big group dances show subtle street influences behind the waving jazz hands.
The simplistic sets are enlivened with swirling, strobing lights by Chris Packham and Will Brann, while pyrotechnics and an impressive, levitating flying carpet add some much needed spectacle to the production.
Though the show may feel a little flat as it travels between set pieces, there is enough sparkle and silliness here to engage its audience.