The genius of the lamps in pantos’ triumphs

Aladdin

Aladdin

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Aladdin, Preston Musical Comedy Society, Preston Playhouse

Aladdin, Chorley Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society, Chorley Little Theatre

If you’re looking to lift your spirits from this windy and rainy December look no further than two lovely traditional family pantomimes telling the age-old story of Aladdin and his magic lamp.

Preston Musical Comedy Society’s runs until December 22. Slapping her thigh in the title role is Julie Oldfield, whose lovely voice blends perfectly with that of Princess Sukaria (Grace Williams).

Comedy abounds in this production written and directed by Mark Howard. It is beautifully choreographed with lots of colour, glamorous costumes and live music under the direction of Dave Thomas.

Widow Twankey (Mark Walsh) runs the local laundry with her hapless but endearing son Wishee Washee (Andrew Hawarden develops a great rapport with the audience with his playful banter).

Inviting and enjoying the booing is Abanazar (Michael Phelan) who wants to be Master of the Universe; he cuts a mean figure alongside his Empress (Beth Tildesley). They have Sergeant Constable (Matthew Williams) running around all over the place and it is only thanks to the Genie of the Lamp (Peter Abbott) and the Slave of the Ring (Raife Cooper) that Aladdin gets to be rich enough to marry the Princess.

The happy ending culminates in a glorious red and silver finale with everyone in good singing voice. A happy, foot-tapping night out!

Chorley Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society’s version runs until December 19.

Under the direction of Andy Burke and Steven Catterall, with liberal doses of local humour and lots of shine and sparkle, the script was written by Paul Carr.

Handling the comedy are Wing (Kira Brookfield) and Wong (Laina Marie Grimshaw Brown) with Andy Burke thoroughly at home in the role of Widow Twankey. Wishee (Steven Catterall) throws himself into the part and it’s nice to see him get a girl, So-Shy (Charli Bradbury), in the end.

Rob Armstrong is a wicked Abanazer with his rich voice (but where was his make-up?)

Emperor (Barry Callander) is protective of Princess Willow (Scarlett Gorman) who is well-cast with Aladdin (Steph Threlfall); they complement each other beautifully in the songs.

And ... in a glorious break with tradition the Genie is a surprising and lovable Muppet-like puppet (worked by Ashley Hambrook and Ceire Edge). He is everyone’s favourite and an instant hit! What a well-perceived idea!

There are dancing skeletons, great choreography throughout (even the two tiny dancers knew every step!) and sparkling costumes!

The curtain comes down in a flurry of red and gold and all is well in Panto-land.

Result – proving that they are not going to be married off to any old prince these two princesses stick to their guns until their father gives permission for them to marry Aladdin!

Grab a ticket to one – or both – and have a wonderful time in Old Peking! There’ll be fun, laughter, surprises, mistaken identities and wonderful people in the casts to ensure you go home dancing!

Jenny Robson