Alban Arena Aladdin pantomime review: 'A slick, stylish spectacular'
PUBLISHED: 15:36 13 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:39 13 December 2017
Aladdin, this year's Alban Arena pantomime, has opened in St Albans. Matt Adams reviews the city's festive treat.
Let’s not kid ourselves, this is the Bob Golding show, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Over the past seven years the Morecambe actor has gradually taken a bigger share of the laughs and the limelight in The Alban Arena’s panto, and there is undoubtedly a large proportion of the audience who come along purely to see his latest routines, regardless of which EastEnders star is taking top billing on the posters.
He certainly doesn’t disappoint in this year’s production of Aladdin, offering a Widow Twankey whose sense of improvisation, comic timing and general banter is second to none.
It helps that he’s supported on stage by long-running partners in crime Ian Kirkby (PC Pongo) and CBeebies’ Mister Maker himself, Phil Gallagher (Wishee Washee), as they’ve done enough turns over the years to be able to bounce off each other’s performances with ease, taking advantage of any unique opportunities presented by each show.
The auditorium came alive whenever the trio took centre stage, and only Genie of the Lamp Eddie Elliott and Spirit of the Ring Hilary O’Neil came close to rivalling them for entertainment value.
Hilary’s impressions were spot on, and never over-used, and Eddie’s gymnastic flips and sassy style made the role his own, not an easy task when the late Robin Williams is so firmly associated with Disney’s genie.
Following in the footsteps of Albert Square co-stars Steve McFadden, Rita Simons (Roxy Mitchell) and Jake Wood was always going to be a challenge for Karl Howman, aka Buster Briggs, and his appearance as Abanazer, while ticking all the requisite panto villain boxes, just failed to reach the dizzying heights of his fellow ‘Enders in previous years.
The two five-year-olds accompanying us were transfixed by set pieces like the magic carpet ride and the high-energy dance numbers, but also laughed along to the slapstick and sat spellbound through the love scenes, so it was definitely a production which worked on all levels.
St Albans audiences have high expectations for their pantos, and once again the Arena delivers in spades.
This is a slick, stylish spectacular which will complete your Christmas. Don’t miss it.
• Aladdin plays at The Alban Arena in St Albans until Sunday, January 7, 2018.
For tickets, call the Arena box office on 01727 844488 or visit http://www.alban-arena.co.uk/