Wayne Rollins’ Abanazar is a deliciously evil panto villain. In his quest for world domination, he learns of a wish-granting genie that lives in a lamp in a faraway land and convinces local pauper Aladdin – a plucky Luke Street – to travel with him and help him to find it. When they do, Aladdin dupes him and runs away with the lamp. Cue flying carpet.
The ensemble twirl and glide through a selection of pop hits through the ages from Elvis to Westlife to Beyoncé. Melissa Nettleford’s performance as Princess Tai Chi and the Spirit of the Ring is especially captivating to watch – so chic, such grace.
Of course, a pantomime is nothing without a Dame and the Broadway Theatre’s Widow Twankey is a fantastically flirtatious Duane Gooden, gorgeously garish in a selection of outlandish outfits that feature leopard print, sequins, velour and pink fluff – sometimes all at the same time.
Director Richard Cheshire’s production is marvellous fun. The set is gloriously glittery and writer James Tobias’ has created a delightful blend of the key elements of the plot of Aladdin, plus a whole lot of funny fodder for a local audience – Tobias has a great sense of what will draw a laugh.
With big production numbers, a big band and choreography that includes the butterfly and the bogle, there is magic to be found under that proscenium arch in the depths of south London.