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Review: Aladdin pantomime at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, December 2014

By Leo Whitlock

The only real judges of a panto’s success are the children in the audience.

And judging by their reaction at the Marlowe’s Aladdin, this year’s is an absolute classic.

Benn Roddy as Widow Twankey with Scott Maslen, Abanazar, in the Marlowe's Aladdin
Benn Roddy as Widow Twankey with Scott Maslen, Abanazar, in the Marlowe's Aladdin

Our three-year-old Oscar, a panto first timer, was rolling with laughter at the slapstick comedy, grooving in his seat to the songs and was thoroughly carried away with the traditional audience participation that all kids, and most of the adults in the audience, love.

As a Cbeebies addict who is strictly rationed, Oscar adores Mister Maker.

So the arrival of Phil Gallagher, who plays Wishee Washee, was a magical moment as he let out a genuine and audible gasp.

Mister Maker Phil Gallagher as Wishee Washee in the Marlowe's Aladdin
Mister Maker Phil Gallagher as Wishee Washee in the Marlowe's Aladdin

This year’s villain, Abanazar, was played by Scott Maslen whose small screen credits include EastEnders, The Bill, Heartbeat and Peak Practice all of which are mercilessly mocked.

The skills he learnt while taking part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2010 are put to very good use and as a baddie he is menacing without scaring the children half to death.

Scott Maslen as Abanazar in the Marlowe's Aladdin
Scott Maslen as Abanazar in the Marlowe's Aladdin

The youngsters loved Widow Twankey played absolutely brilliantly by Ben Roddy but the adults loved her even more.

In the best panto traditions, he was cheeky, sarcastic and self-mocking with all of his near-the-knuckle but harmless jokes leaving the adults roaring but flying safely over the heads of the little ones.

Ben Roddy as Widow Twankey in the Marlowe's Aladdin
Ben Roddy as Widow Twankey in the Marlowe's Aladdin

Marlowe panto stalwart Lloyd Hollett playing PC Pongo was as brilliant as ever and you’ll soon feel very sorry for him two items into the 12 Days Of Christmas.

The rest of the cast gave a storming performance including Masashi Fujimoto of Banzai fame as the emperor, Sabrina Aloueche with her Essex girl twang, Rose O’Reilly as Princess Jasmine who is so intrinsic to the love story, David Albury as Aladdin who demonstrated some deft airborne moves and Bentley Kalu as the genie of the lamp whose dancing chest muscles put any other man to shame.

Aladdin David Albury and Rosa O'Reilly, Princess Jasmine, in the Marlowe's Aladdin
Aladdin David Albury and Rosa O'Reilly, Princess Jasmine, in the Marlowe's Aladdin

The old favourites are all there including, as tradition dictates, the bench gag which everyone cheered to the rafters in tribute to the late Dave Lee.

If you still haven’t booked your tickets do it now. This is a West End-style panto here in our fair city.

And you most definitely get your money’s worth and much more.

Leo Whitlock

Review tickets for this performance were supplied by the Marlowe for free.

Aladdin is at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury until Sunday, January 11. Tickets cost from £11. Visit www.marlowetheatre.com or call 01227 787787.

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