Powered along by a blazingly charismatic actor-musician ensemble, Aladdin is the latest in a string of annual rock‘n’roll pantos from Peter Rowe, remixing the traditional fairytale formula as a quick-fire jukebox musical stuffed with poppy hits on brass and massed guitars.
Director Kate Golledge stages it with irrepressible energy, her cast racing through the aisles, grinning and giggling with the audience and layering wordless comic interactions into the background of every scene and every song.
A very literal sight gag during a Carpenters’ cover sees birds suddenly appearing with genuinely hilarious abruptness, while a set piece in which James Haggie’s drippy, dim-witted Wishee Washee gets repeatedly mangled in laundry equipment feels fresh, simultaneously cleverly conceived and fantastically silly.
Kate Hardisty makes a refreshingly powerful Princess, mischievous, strong-willed, refusing to let the men clamouring around her dictate her future.
Richard Costello’s wonderfully hammy glam-rock villain Abanazer basks delightedly in a torrent of well-earned booing, tauntingly thrashing his tongue around like Kiss’ Gene Simmons, while Cameron Johnson’s vividly-realised Widow Twankey feels spiritually closer to drag queen than traditional dame, keeping up a relentless stream of innuendo while strutting about the space with winning charm.