Ruthless Rufus- the Peterborough panto baddie who is also very goodie
From the moment Rufus Hound walks out on stage and gives it the big “most powerful sorcerer in all the world” rant, it is clear he is not just stealing the magic lamp, he is stealing the show.
Hound, a comedian and experienced stage actor but making his panto debut in Aladdin at Peterborough’s New Theatre nonetheless, is a revelation as the villain of the piece Abanazar.
Dressed all in black and at times hooded, he possesses an incredible stage presence, and delivers just the right amount of menace and villainy but is clearly playing it for laughs.
Billy Eilish’s Bad Guy is a great fit. As one of the headliners, he sets the bar high.
But he is not alone.
Hall of Famer Bobby Crush is the Dame of Dames. Outrageously overdressed as Widow Twankey he is a delight. His jokes and quips are delivered like a true pro, he simply blends into every scene perfectly and has you hanging on his every word - you don’t want to miss a thing.
And if his rock n roll piano medley doesn’t get your feet tapping there is no hope for you.
But still the laughs keep coming in the guise of Ricky K - Aladdin’s hapless brother Wishee Washee.
Ricky, a great all-round entertainer who found fame on Britain’s Got Talent, is just one of those naturally funny people and he wins the audience over straight away.
He gets plenty of laughs with a barrage of good old fashioned pantomime jokes, some of them new, plus a little bit of topical humour, and if you haven’t seen his “fairytale of love” sketch you are in for a treat. Yes, it’s in there.
The trio are a real force on stage and it’s nice to see they are not afraid to send themselves up. Great fun.
Julie Coombe is a lovely, bubbly and quirky Genie while Joshian Omana is an absolute bundle of energy as Aladdin.
There were a few first night nerves for Sabrina Washington as Princess Jasmine although they weren’t noticeable when she started to sing - yes, Mis-Teeq’s hit Scandalous does get an airing.
Throw in a couple of brilliant set pieces (If I Was Not In Panto is a gem and Adam Mroz as useless policeman PC World plays a huge part) and you are on your way.
Add a flying carpet, loads of recognisable pop songs, terrific music from the band, some great dancing from the ensemble - and aerial arts from the talented Naomi Scott (Spirit of The Ring) and you have a thoroughly entertaining two-hour variety show that sends everyone home with a smile on their faces.
Which is just how it should be.
Tickets from www.newtheatre-peterborough.com