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Review: New Wolsey's rock'n'roll Aladdin offers up a Christmas classic

PUBLISHED: 12:06 04 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:17 05 December 2019

Abanazer (Richard Costello) takes control of the royal palace in Shanghai. The New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto Aladdin offers audiences a dazzling musical treat. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Abanazer (Richard Costello) takes control of the royal palace in Shanghai. The New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto Aladdin offers audiences a dazzling musical treat. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

@ Mike Kwasniak Photography

Aladdin, by Peter Rowe, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until February 1 2020

The New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto Aladdin offers audiences a dazzling musical treat. A fun-filled Christmas party to start the festive season Photo: Mike KwasniakThe New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto Aladdin offers audiences a dazzling musical treat. A fun-filled Christmas party to start the festive season Photo: Mike Kwasniak

The New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto has been movin' and groovin' for nearly 20 years and you would think that by now the joke would be wearing a bit thin but every year the theatre's team of amazingly talented actor-musicians breathe new life into this remarkably adaptable formula and this year have come up with a classic.

Aladdin is stuffed full of rock, soul and pop classics, played to perfection by the cast, and a script that zings with one-liners and wonderfully risqué double intendres. It's a show that thrives on tearing down the fourth wall and inviting the audience to be an active part of the performance.

The cast are clearly having a great time on stage and they want everyone to join in. The plot is merely a device to hang together a lot of brilliant, groan-inducing jokes, timeless pop and rock classics and some crazy physical gags.

This year there are plenty of fresh faces in the cast including a fabulous new dame. Canadian-born Cameron Johnson plays a giant-sized Widow Twankey with a saucy twinkle in her eye and plenty of attitude and, for once, the dame provides the central focus for the show rather than being the comedy relief.

Newcomers Neil Urquhart and Kate Hardisty provide the love interest as Aladdin and Princess Firecracker while Richard Costello laps up the boos (or is that booze?) as the evil sorcerer Abanazer who tricks Aladdin into retrieving the lamp which allow him to harness the powers of the genie.

Talented New Wolsey regulars James Haggie, Lucy Wells and Adam Langstaff and provide laughs, sass and pomposity as the dim Wishee Washee, The Genie and the Emperor.

Widow Twankey (Cameron Jiohnson) gets to grips with the evil Abanazer (Richard Costello) The New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto Aladdin offers audiences a fun-filled Christmas party to start the festive season Photo: Mike KwasniakWidow Twankey (Cameron Jiohnson) gets to grips with the evil Abanazer (Richard Costello) The New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto Aladdin offers audiences a fun-filled Christmas party to start the festive season Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Is it a panto or is it a party? Sometimes it's very hard to tell the difference particularly as there is some terrific music served up during the evening including I'm A Believer, Wild Thing, Papa Don't Preach, Get Ready, I'll Be There For You (Theme From Friends), Born To Be Wild, Theme From The Monkees, ABC, Close To You and I Feel Good, among many others.

Once again the New Wolsey have put us in the right frame of mind for the Christmas season and offered up a dazzling, hugely enjoyable show filled with laughs and a juke-box full of musical treats which are delivered with the force and finesse of a full-on rock concert. It's loud and it's fun... welcome to Old Peking..welcome to the party of the year.

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