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Aladdin review at the Theatre, Chipping Norton – ‘quirky theatricality’

In the film that opens John Terry’s production of Aladdin, a camel is wandering the streets of Chipping Norton. The villainous Abanazar asks at the electrical shop for a magic lamp and is directed to the theatre, bursting through the doors to clamber onto the stage.

The Theatre Chipping Norton’s 2018 pantomime transports its audience to ancient(ish) Egypt. The location is effectively evoked by Pip Leckenby’s gold painted set, which is dominated by two presiding sphinxes, and Steven Edis’ musical score.

Andrew Pepper as Aladdin’s mum Dame Gertie wears costumes to die for, from an orangey gold, quality-street wrapper jumpsuit to an astounding Pyramid dress, complete with sphinx headdress (designed by Emily Stuart). Pepper’s sultry, jazz number ‘No-one seems to want you when your husband’s dead’ is a highlight of the first act.

Zelina Rebeiro and David Djemal make convincing romantic leads as Aladdin and Jasmine, with a particularly strong vocal performance from Djemal. Tessa Vale gives a hilarious performance as Jasmine’s imperious mother the Empress.

Ben Crocker’s script contains all the beloved panto ingredients: a sing-a-long, plenty of “he’s behind you” moments and physical comedy. John Terry’s directing contains flashes of theatrical innovation that lift the production from the formulaic to the inspired.

The performers thrillingly evoke a flying carpet ride, through perching miniature puppets of their characters on giant top hats. The audience is enlisted to hold cardboard clouds. In the intimate space of the Theatre Chipping Norton, the puppetry sequence creates a moment of theatrical magic.

https://www.thestage.co.uk/pantomime/ [1]

Verdict
Strong performances and quirky theatricality make for a truly thrilling pantomime

Production Information

Production
Aladdin
Venue
The Theatre
City
Chipping Norton
Starts
Novemeber 14, 2018
Ends
January 13, 2019
Press night
November 15, 2018
Book
Ben Crocker
Music
Steven Edis
Director
John Terry
Musical director
Alex Maynard
Choreographer
Lizzie Franks
Set
Pip Leckenby
Lighting
Mark Dymock
Sound
Jonathan Everett
Costume
Emily Stuart
Stage manager
Suzie Foster
Cast includes
David Djemal, Zelina Rebeiro, Andrew Pepper, Anna Brook-Mitchell, Benedict Martin, Tessa Vale, Irfan Damani, Isabella Parsons, Emma Ridgeway, Vicky Sladen, Murilo De Souza
Producer
The Theatre Chipping Norton
Running time
2hrs 20mins