Aladdin review at Pavilion Theatre, Worthing – ‘lazily written’
The trend for gender blind casting has spread as far as the Worthing family pantomime, where musical comedian Vikki Stone is drawing on the villainous moustache and dancing with the harem as Abanazar in Aladdin.
It’s a role she’s played before: Stone arrives in regional panto via two seasons at Lyric Hammersmith, for which she was hailed as a scene-stealing new superstar of the genre. Either she’s lost her magic touch, or it just doesn’t rub off on this lazily-penned, aesthetically jumbled production.
There are some enjoyable moments. A dance-off between Abanazar and Aladdin gives Lee Latchford-Evans from Steps the chance to squeeze in a few bars of 5, 6, 7, 8. The cave scene is neatly staged. Hard-working Mark Jones never fails to elevate the energy levels as Wishee Washee. As in previous years, local children swell the chorus scenes, and chart pop dominates the musical numbers. There are several songs from The Greatest Showman, while Latchford-Evans’ Aladdin flies his magic carpet to Shawn Mendes’ There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back.
But the script trades in catatonic old cracker jokes and the performers are either miscast or wasted. Brighton drag artist Dave Lynn seems adrift as Widow Twankey, lacking any rapport with the family audience or apparent input into his gags. CBeebies’ Rebecca Keatley does little more than smile prettily as Princess Jasmine. And a ‘special guest voice performance’ by Brian Blessed means the Genie, which should be the most dynamic part of the show, is reduced to a weirdly static 12-foot puppet.