Alan McHugh’s Aladdin both subverts panto traditions and celebrates them. He’s ditched the racist overtones and made sure the love story between Lee Dillon-Stuart’s Aladdin and Frances Mayli McCann’s Princess Jasmine, that sits at the centre of the show, is reciprocal.
The unflappable George Drennan is a thoroughly evil Abanazar, generating a chorus of boos and providing the tenuous links from one set piece to the next. Lisa Lynch is in great voice as Scheherazade, genie of the ring, although her role is reduced to ‘get out of jail’ card for Aladdin.
The chief source of energy is Elaine C Smith, who takes the dame role of Widow Twanky, along with Johnny Mac in the “silly billy” role of Wishee Washee. They are at the centre of nearly all the routines and know exactly how to press the audience’s buttons. They deliver McHugh’s swathes of Glasgow-based humour (this Old Peking is clearly a suburb, probably next to Castlemilk) with impeccable timing.
There’s strong comic support from Paul-James Corrigan, as the Imperial Palace Guard, and Anne Smith’s Empress Ming. Karen Martin’s choreography is inventive and she has a strong dance troupe at her disposal. The disparate elements of the production are all strong. What’s lacking is a sense of cohesion. Director Nigel West fails to successfully generate a true sense of camaraderie between the different acts.