Aladdin - Charter Theatre, Preston
If all rounder Ted Robbins ever tires of writing, directing and starring in pantomimes, hosting his own daily afternoon radio programme and captaining Radio 4’s Act Your Age, warming up tv audiences or appearing in The Slammer, he could always earn a crust as a Les Dawson tribute act.
“We’re not the best but we do work cheap,” he only half jokingly tells the audience at this latest creation for producer and Guild Hall general manager Chris Haylett, before delivering some of Les’s more famous gags whilst frequently hitching up Widow Twankey’s heaving bosom in true Cissy and Ada style.
He’s a showbusiness trouper of the old school which is just as well because as usual the Charter has to rely more on enthusiasm than budget for its annual pantomime.
But Robbins is a master of the art of polishing well worn winners into something which can please all age groups.
He has trimmed the actual rags to riches and back story to the bone – removing the need for massive scene changes along the way and cleverly incorporating the traditional double act chemistry of Blackpool favourites The Harper Brothers as the Chinese Policemen and even giving Mr Bump a key role in speeding things along .
Waterlooo Road’s Tachia Newall is quite a discovery and an instant winner as a streetwise and jive talking Aladdin alongside Charter regular Jodie Hamblett’s feistier than usual Princess Jasmine.
Likewise Kay Purcell’s Genie of the Lamp breaks the usual servile mould. Rub her lamp at your peril.
Warren Donnelly does his best to be dastardly as Abanazar but even his Harry Potter insults can’t convince the kids’ that he’s really all that bad underneath.
There’s lively singing and dancing from the “Villagers” (well choreographed by Katy Reynolds) and the Sandham Fitchett School of Performing Arts are on hand to flesh things out.