Review: Playing it Strictly for laughs at the Cresset

The Cresset panto Aladdin.
The Cresset panto Aladdin.
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Call me old fashioned but a panto is supposed to deliver a couple of hours of cheap laughs and family entertainment - and that is just what the Cresset have served up with Aladdin.

There’s no frills - apart from some gaudy ones on the Dame’s dresses of course - but plenty of jokes out of last year’s Christmas crackers, the odd ad-lib, stumble and mistimed entrance plus tonnes of audience participation - everything you want really.

The Cresset panto Aladdin.

The Cresset panto Aladdin.

It gets off to a great start with the opening number - a very entertaining if not that daft Wishee Washee (Ashley Bowden) and the hard-working and talented young ensemble (who are forever on stage) in a sparkling set - which put a smile on everyone’s face and set the tone for the rest of the show.

There was no let up in the laughter.

Lawrence Stubbings is everything you would want in a devilishly evil Abanazar and Zach Vanderfelt - clearly feels at home in a frock (or two) playing the camp as the festive season Dame Twankey. He loves it and the audience loved him - no wonder he comes back year after year.

Mitch Hewer, who made his name in TV’s Skins, was surprisingly good as Aladdin - and the boy can sing - even if he did sound a bit too American in his opening number. And Emily Adams (Princess Jasmine) duetted nicely with him in A Whole New World but was a little underused - even if she did play the Slave of the Ring too.

The biggest cheers, though, were for This Morning presenter Alison Hammond - recently of Strictly fame - as the Genie who danced energetically on to the stage at every rub of the lamp to great applause.

Nothing was stopping her from enjoying every moment - even giggling because she couldn’t get her lines out at one point but carrying on like a real trooper - and the audience lapped it up. Her smile is infectious

Opening the second half with Pharrell’s Happy was another masterstroke to get the audience going - who cares if it had nothing to do with the plot, who cares about a plot in a panto, everyone loves it!

I enjoyed the closing number, too, a little reminder of what panto is all about - which sent the near full house home happy.

Aladdin is on at The Cresset until December 30. Contact the box office on 01733 265705.