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Review: Aladdin at Grantham’s Guildhall is a must-see panto!

By David Parker

Polka Dot's production of Aladdin at the Guildhall in Grantham.
Polka Dot's production of Aladdin at the Guildhall in Grantham.

If you want a great night out full of laughs then you’ve got to go to the Guildhall panto, Aladdin.

Quite simply, it’s brilliant. And it’s brilliant, whatever your age.

What makes it so entertaining is the chemistry between the cast members – they were clearly enjoying themselves, failing at times to keep a straight face, but that made it all the more amusing.

They were all stars of the show, but the cast member who has always stood out to me at each Polka Dot pantomime I’ve seen in Grantham was Phil Norton, who this year played Wishee Washee. He’s a natural at creating a cameraderie with the audience, and earned a few extra laughs by throwing in unscripted jokes.

However, this year he was matched by Taran Knight, whose portrayal of Genie was brilliant. His performance was full of energy...and after busting out dance moves from disco to hip hop, he must have been exhausted when the curtain went down. What he lacked in co-ordination at times while dancing as part of the group he more than made up for with enthusiasm!

No panto would be complete, of course, without a dame, and this year’s Widow Twankey was played by John Highton. He was fantastically rude and his variety of dresses amused the youngsters in the audience. And that lip-liner was something else.

Adaptations of popular pop songs, from Taylor Swift to Take That, made the show all the more entertaining to the youngsters. And they were sung wonderfully, particularly by the female members of the cast – Slave of the Ring Hayley Sewell and Princess Jasmine played by Beth Dillon. Their voices are beautiful, as is Martyn Payne’s, who plays a charming Aladdin.

Meanwhile, Abanazar played a great bad guy and Edward Avison Scott, the Emperor, was endearing. And boy can he put on an impressive accent. And I must mention the dancers; they, too, were brilliant.

The script writer had clearly done their homework, throwing in accurate jokes about Grantham and surrounding towns. All of them in good taste, although if I lived in Sleaford I wouldn’t be too pleased!

It was no state-of-the-art production but what special effects there were were great, particularly the flying carpet. Although I did miss the popular Aladdin song ‘A Whole New World’.

The panto is on at the Guildhall until January 3. For information and tickets, go to www.guildhallartscentre.com


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