The Stage on Imagine Theatre’s Production of Aladdin at the Hexagon, Reading 2011/12

Aladdin, Hexagon Theatre, Reading 2011

Justin Fletcher only needs to fall out of a wicker basket to have the audience in stitches and a simple innocent comment about getting a washing line cannot be funnier in his young admirers’ eyes. Without question, he deserves his MBE for services to children’s television and his talents translate equally well in front of a live audience.

As Wishee Washee, Fletcher is completely at home, employing his madcap antics and imaginative voices with a cast of skilled and competent actors who are never upstaged, each giving true professional value to their individual roles.

Steve Varnom is excellent as Abanazar, a larger than life baddie with a thunderous voice, Kerry Newell is a dynamic Aladdin and Anne Charleston is refined as the Empress of China. Jolyon Dixon is a butch dame of the unrefined variety, Cheryl Neal is delightful as So-Shi and Arina Ii gives a strong performance as the oriental Princess.

Offering a fresh perspective to the role of Genie, Stewart Charlesworth does a fantastic job morphing from the traditional vision to a camp, showbiz version, and Emma Quintin is refreshingly bright as the Spirit of the Ring.

The writers, together with director Steve Boden, ensure that none of the customary characteristics are omitted to produce an entertaining family show maintaining the time-honoured panto traditions amid contemporary choreography, engaging sets and glitzy costumes.

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