Bury St Edmunds: Family fun on a magical colourful carpet ride full of laughter with Aladdin

Aladdin at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds

Aladdin at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

Aladdin, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, until January 12

IT’S a magic carpet ride of fun, laughter and song plus an amazing colourful setting for this year’s pantomime at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds.

The opening night of Aladdin, on Friday, was an utter triumph with an array of quick one-line slapstick gags from perfect panto dame James Nickerson, as Widow Twankey, and his able sidekicks Wishee Washee (Chris Coxon) and the energetic fall guy Patrick Marlowe, who doubles up as the evil Abanazar’s (David Chittenden) downtrodden servant and Empress Double Chinn (Hannah Summers) officer Hanky/Panky.

Family entertainment comes in bucket fulls from the hugely talented seven-strong cast and it’s two-and-a-half hour romp of non-stop old fashioned, polished pantomime.

Audience participation comes in large quantities so be prepared to exercise your vocal chords and clear you throats for some singing and shouting .,,, oh yes you will!

Nickerson, with his Tommy Cooper-esque jokes and ad lib link up with the audience, is cast to perfection in his dame role, while even the odd forgotten line from some of the cast during the first night was turned into a joyous chuckle.

Bad guy Abanazar becomes the butt of everyone’s boos and hisses but it’s his companion Panky who shines with his endless energy, brilliant comic display and no short amount of devotion to duty to his “master of malice and malevolence”.

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Aladdin (Jessica Spalis) and Princess Jasmine (Roxanne Palmer) are cast together as the traditional panto pairing and their singing is a delight while the Empress sheds her regal head dress and clothes to double up as a beautiful genie of the lamp.

There’s also a clever black and white silent movie video, created by students at the West Suffolk College, that’s dropped into the performance as Widow Twankey, Wishee Washee and Aladdin travel round Bury before ending up at the town’s railway station for their “journey” to Egypt.

Add into the mix the clever musical accompaniment from Phil Gostelow, keyboards, and Ben Hartley, drums, plus the backstage team, Aladdin looks set to be a huge succces.

Dating back to the Arabian Nights tales of the 15th Century, this is probably the oldest of the panto stories and often the most enchanted because it is so full of sorcery and spells – the magic lamp, the ring that produces a genie when rubbed and a cave full of treasure.

As is well known, any commoner who dares to lay eyes on Princess Jasmine will be put to death but this doesn’t faze the feisty and ambitious Aladdin who, having clapped eyes on the emperor’s beautiful daughter is determined to marry her. But this could prove difficult because Aladdin is very poor.

However, the cunning Abanazar offers him the job of fetching the magic lamp and, if the lad plays his cards cleverly, it could be the making of him.

There’s a punishing schedule ahead for the cast as the shows, come thick and fast through this month and into Christmas and the New Year but they look bound to have the audiences onside throughout their stay at the theatre.

Tickets for Aladdin, which is sponsored by Premier Printers Ltd with media sponsors the East Anglian Daily Times and its sister title The Bury St Edmunds Mercury, are still available through the theatre box office on 01284 769505 or go to the website www.theatreroyal.org

Russell Cook