Aladdin should be the most opulent of pantomimes, with plenty of opportunity for lavish costumes and jewel-encrusted caves playing against a background of the forbidden love between a princess and a commoner.
Alan McHugh’s version references much of this while Joe Pasquale provides the knockabout comedy. In fact, Pasquale himself is a one-man pantomime. His clowning shifts seamlessly from hang-dog victim to merciless tormentor without drawing breath.
Pasquale has the best straight man in Lee Mead, who thankfully lampoons his West End image. It’s a fascinating double act to watch but thankfully their attempts to corpse each other don’t unbalance the show.
With such strong personalities on stage, the other characters need to step up – and they do. David Robbins as Widow Twankey is more than a match for Pasquale and his wigs and costumes by far the grandest and most comical outside the London Palladium.
Phil Corbitt as Abanazar and Sarah Earnshaw as Scheherazade bolster their performances with booming vocals and a touch of old-school melodrama that suits the medium.
Tegan Bannister is a gutsy Princess Jasmine but while McHugh’s script has her wielding the sword at the end, it’s otherwise a desperately underwritten role.
This is a thankless quibble, however, in a show where even the ubiquitous Pantomime Song is funny.