Review: Aladdin @ Lichfield Garrick

The cast of Aladdin

The cast of Aladdin

In ancient times this darkest part of the year was known as the season of misrule when normal laws were reversed and everyone could relax.  Well that’s just what happens down at the Garrick’s new panto.

Did I hear you say oh no it doesn’t? Oh, yes it does.

The Garrick’s Christmas offering has been one of my favourite theatrical fixtures for the last few years for sheer seasonal fun, and this joyful production of Aladdin is no exception, just what we could all do with right now.

There’s a lovely air of kindness and geniality about this whole show that got us all smiling right from the start. Pretty soon everybody young and old was laughing, shouting out loud and enjoying themselves as much as the cast on stage, and that’s got to be good for us all.

The mainspring of all this enjoyment is the ferociously talented Ian Adams, the panto’s author, director and superb Widow Twankey. Now Danny’s gone and Lily Savage has hung up her bra Ian must quite simply be the best Dame in the business. His laundress Widow T is warmly saucy and silly, singing like a soubrette, dancing like a trouper and twinkling with sly jokes that are innocent to the pure but pack just enough naughtiness to satisfy the most worldly of adults at the same time.

Regular favourite Barnaby plays her daft son Wishee Washee and what he doesn’t know about entertainment isn’t really worth knowing either. Watch him working with the shy (or bolder) youngsters invited up on stage. It’s an object lesson in how to make the merely difficult look like a breeze.

The general air of kindness even extends to the Garrick Rep’s own Tom Roberts as evil Uncle Abanazer who is enjoying himself so much in what I know is his first panto that he’s more cuddly rather than cruel.

There’s love interest too with the winsome Paul Martin-McDowell as Aladdin and the lovely Rachel Matthews as his sweetheart Princess Balroubadour who can both sing up a storm. Special mention must go to Whittington lad and Old Edwardian Rob Pass whose policeman Officer Pong betrays a real comic talent I feel will get even surer during the run.

Tom Roberts as the evil Abanazer with Rustie Lee as the Genie

Tom Roberts as the evil Abanazer with Rustie Lee as the Genie

And then of course there’s the larger-than-life Rustie Lee whose infectious good humour as Genie of the Lamp spills over the footlights and who in this show’s lovely relaxed atmosphere got some of the first night’s biggest laughs merely by getting so excited at being on stage she forgot her lines.

The show’s a tad shorter than last year, to my regret, but then I don’t have two tired two toddlers to lug home at the end of a long night. Panto’s often a child’s first taste of real theatre, so I reckon anyway this show is sure to have them coming back for more.

If you like laughter don’t miss this show, a slice of pure theatre history brought bang up to date.

Aladdin runs until January 9 including morning, matinee and Sunday performances. For tickets phone the Box Office on 01543 412121 or go online at www.lichfieldgarrick.com.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

1 Comment

  1. Bernie De Souza

    6th July, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I do love a good pantomime and this looks like a fantastic one. I’m guessing that it might not be on again this year? Any ideas what will be? I’ll check the main site for any information.