Well I’ll say one thing for Grand Theatre Director Adrian Jackson – he really knows how to throw a party. The opening night of this year’s panto Aladdin was just that, a huge festive party for children of all ages thrown by one of Britain’s experts and featuring a crack team of entertainers who know everything there is to know about giving the customers a good time.
The aptly named Grand Theatre is a treat in itself, newly-refurbished to make it into a cosy glittering jewel box that’s intimate on the grand scale.
And Aladdin makes the most of that intimacy with a non-stop seasonal celebration brought to life by a crack team of experts, an all-singing, all-dancing parade of sheer silliness and good cheer. Plus of course the glittering cast of this fun-filled seasonal celebration perfectly matches the theatre’s rich opulence in this no-expense-spared production filled with stars.
Top of the bill is disarmingly charming West End star, recording artist and X Factor winner Joe McElderry as Aladdin, while his opposite number Lucy Kay makes a lovely Princess Jasmine. Ben Faulks is a delightfully ineffectual PC Ping Pong while Neal Wright effortlessly gives the role of Genie of the Lamp the required gravitas.
Stefan Pejic scowles menacingly as wicked Abanazar. By contrast TV favourite Lisa Riley as the Slave of the Ring must be the jolliest one on record. And then of course there’s Ian Adams, best dame in the business, on hand to orchestrate the fun while Adam Booth effervesces as the surreally silly Wishee Washee.
But even in the starriest cast there’s a superstar and here as The Lazy Empress it’s yamyam midlands legend Doreen, the politically incorrect benefits tourist who is the reigning monarch of a dynasty of scroungers – her eldest daughter Trojan was recently voted West Midlands Young Offender of the Year by Neighbourhood Watch.
This is panto at its most traditional and most successful, full of those ancestral bits of business that make the genre incomprehensible to foreigners and irresistible to Brits. See it and enjoy a proper Christmas laugh.
Aladdin runs at the Grand until January 22. For tickets book online or phone 01902 429212.