Gloucestershire panto fans can wrap themselves in the traditional Christmas-time comfort blanket of familiarity with this year’s production of Aladdin at the Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury.
Favourite comics Ben Eagle and Michael Watson-Gray provide knockabout laughter for the fourth year running, this time as Widow Twankey and Wishee-Washee, while writer/director Ben Crocker is at the helm for the eighth successive year.
Their longevity is in contrast to James Squire (Aladdin) and Esme Rothero, (Princess Jasmine) who both make their professional debuts with strong singing performances.
It is the experienced Benedict Martin, however, who comes up with the one impressively different moment in a pantomime otherwise rather short-changed in the sparkle department.
The show opens with a hilarious large-screen film of Martin, as Abanazar, riding majestically down Tewkesbury’s busy High Street on the back of a genuine camel (promptly given a parking ticket by a passing traffic warden), before bursting from the screen and entering stage right to the first of many boos.
Margaret Preece joins Martin in the villain corner as a truculent Empress of China, while the main attraction of the score is three catchy original songs by Crocker and Steven Edis, highlighted by the entire cast singing The Time is Now.