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Aladdin review at Theatre Royal, Wakefield – ‘roof-raising’

Aladdin and Wishee Washee from the Theatre Royal Wakefield production. Photo: Amy Charles Aladdin and Wishee Washee from the Theatre Royal Wakefield production. Photo: Amy Charles

Sticking slavishly to the standard panto playbook, this in-house show doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises. However, what it lacks in originality it makes up for with audience interaction. The spirited cast provoke roof-raising levels of noise within the Theatre Royal’s sumptuous auditorium.

Louise Denison and Chris Hannon’s production takes a while to hit its stride. The first half is uneven and a little repetitive, with too much chasing about and not enough made of the launderette setting. References to funding cuts and corporate sponsors sail clean over the kids’ heads, while writer Daniel O’Brien’s decision to lace the script with so many Christmas cracker-style jokes is wearying to say the least.

The proceedings, however, are lifted significantly in the second act by a frenetic pace and a series of successful set-pieces, including an amusing slow-motion kung fu sequence and an entertaining Bond medley from Chris Chilton’s solidly villainous, and extremely Yorkshire, Abanazar.

Elsewhere, Danielle Bird stands out as a daftly endearing Welsh Wishee Washee, while Melissa Rose gives her Princess Jasmine plenty of petulant attitude. It’s a shame she isn’t given much time to connect with Dean Bray’s laddish Aladdin, but the pair sing well and combine to harmonious effect on Clean Bandit’s Symphony.

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Verdict
Standard-issue panto lifted by the cast’s commitment to prompting maximum audience volume
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