Even though I’m a grown up I still love going to the panto.
It’s been a tradition since I was a child and it makes this time of year for me.
So I was really looking forward to reviewing Polka Dot Pantomimes’ production of Aladdin at Spalding’s South Holland Centre.
And was a treat it was.
The energy didn’t let up from the moment Chris Grayson entered the stage as the evil Abanazar.
Plotting to capture the magic lamp and become the most powerful person in Peking, he played the pantomime villain to full effect.
Spalding actress Beth Newman was excellent as the enchanting Slave of the Ring, guiding our hero Aladdin through the magic tale.
As ever, Vince Williams was larger than life as the hilarious Widow Twankey, with some out-of-this world costumes, one of which prompted an audience member to call out ‘It’s Lady Gaga’s grandma!’
In true panto tradition there were, of course, local references and the obligatory jokes that were aimed at older members of the audience.
Ayscoughfee Hall and Springfields got a mention, as did Spalding Water Taxi - and the town centre’s Christmas tree got a slating.
But it was all in good fun. Even when the audience got a good soaking with water pistols during a chase scene, one audience member smartly put up an umbrella!
With lots of topical references worked into the plot; and well-known chart hits and disco tunes given a re-working, there was plenty to keep the audience entertained.
I particularly loved the version of Car Wash in Widow Twankey’s laundry.
Josh Davis played Aladdin well and Amy Forder was perfect as Princess Jasmine.
I also thought Justin Vanderhyde and Richard Burman were well-suited to their parts as the Genie of the Lamp and Emperor of China respectively. And well done to the local young dancers and chorus members who sparkled on the stage.
But the star of the show for me was Max Fulham as Wishee Washee. His comic timing, particularly alongside Widow Twankey was spot on.
He’s also an extremely talented ventriloquist, accompanied by pet monkey Gordon, and had Gordon singing in Spanish in one scene.
And when he got ‘volunteers’ Luke and Jonathan up from the audience for a segment, I was in hysterics.
○ Aladdin is on at the South Holland Centre until December 31.
Reviewed by Zoe Myall