With a puff of smoke, a boo, a cheer, sparkle and glitz, a technical glitch and some musical magic, mix it altogether in a rusty old lamp and oh yes, it could only be opening night of Preston’s 2017 pantomime Aladdin.
The Charter Theatre was packed for the first night of this year’s festive offering and the cheers at the end (for the good guys and the bad) rounded off what was a fantastic family night out.
Comedian Phil Walker once again at the helm, writing and directing and starring as Aladdin’s ‘brother’ Wishee Washee in this action-packed adventure, which hit the right notes with the audience from the very off.
From the fictional land of Pe-king, apparently not too far from Preston market, the audience young and old were promised a ‘quality night’ of entertainment and were not to be disappointed.
This year’s casting offered a host of talent from Blackpool’s Stacey McClean (Princess Jasmine) of S Club Junior fame to a famous tv magician (no not Dynamo) but TV trickster Paul Zenon (Abanazar) and Nickelodeon Junior’s Carl Tracey.
Joining them on stage were comedian Jonathan Mayor as the Slave of the Ring, CBBC’s Marvyn Dickinson and not forgetting Jeffrey Longmore as Widow Twankey. All putting on high-energy, witty performances.
For those familiar with the musical, add a mix-tape of Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Clean Bandit, throw in a little toilet humour , a shout of ‘he’s behind you’ and some extra surprises and you get the picture.
Stand-up comedian Walker had his work cut-out after back-to-back successes with the previous Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk but armed with a water gun or two, his work is not to be underestimated with a very modern and funny twist on this much-loved fairytale adventure.
Not to mention some cracking one-liners about the city’s near neighbours; a note of disclaimer maybe not the show for the more sensitive PNE fan.
Praise must also be given for Nicky Figgins choreography and the wonderful team of supporting dancers who all added to the spectacle as well as the set, lighting and backstage crew, who put together aseamless production.
It was Walker during the en-core who thanked the audience and apologised for an overrun due to technical difficulties, we would have never known
If you are looking for a family outing to get you in the festive spirit, this year’s panto has the magic to literally get the children dancing in the aisles (for all those sat behind row F opening night - yes ‘those kids’ were mine.)
The Pantomime runs to January 3.