Aladdin – The Wok ‘n’ Roll Panto review at the Gatehouse, Stafford – ‘energetic’
The all-singing, all live music-playing rock’n’roll panto format is now an established tradition in Stafford. The council-run Gatehouse was among the pioneers of the concept and this production maintains the venue’s success rate.
As always it’s a high-energy affair in which young, multi-talented actor/musicians weave classic pop songs into the telling of the timeless panto story.
But while the singing and music is delicious, Peter Rowe’s somewhat lacklustre script relies far too heavily on smutty gags mostly involving bodily functions, accompanied by appropriate sound effects.
The inclusion of some 20 songs means some aspects of the traditional Aladdin tale have to be forfeited. So no Chinese policemen, flying carpets or a proper comedy laundry scene here. But hearing the likes of Steve Simmonds’s Widow Twankey singing I Will Survive or Samuel Townsend’s Wishee Washee offering a plaintive version of Tracks of My Tears more than makes up for that.
Michael Hamway and Seren Sandham-Davies are splendid as Aladdin and the Princess but Benjamin Stratton, while a fine singer/musician, is too young to make his Abanazar truly scary.
The sound and lighting is top-notch and the magnificent sets provide the perfect backdrop for woking ‘n’ rolling.
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