REVIEW: Aladdin Lowther Pavilion, Lytham

Members of the cast of Lowther Pavilion's 2014 panto Aladdin, from left:  Richard Marquiss, Jack Bradley, Olivia Stuart, Scott Wright and Chris D'Bray
Members of the cast of Lowther Pavilion's 2014 panto Aladdin, from left: Richard Marquiss, Jack Bradley, Olivia Stuart, Scott Wright and Chris D'Bray
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Polka Dot Pantomimes’ Aladdin is one of 10 shows the company is presenting at smaller theatres around the provinces this Christmas.

It’s their first appearance at the Lowther Pavilion and this production represents a considerable improvement on the locally-written offerings of recent years.

Blackpool-born Jack Bradley in the title role is first class, acting, singing, speaking and moving with an attractive naturalness and stage presence.

He speaks throughout at just the right pace and his duets with the tuneful Olivia Stuart as Princess Jasmine quietened an exuberant audience of excited primary school children.

Aladdin’s Aces, one of three troupes of local dancers in the run of 31 performances, offered colourful and skilled support, far better drilled and used by choreographer Rebecca Taylor-Grayson than in previous pantos here. Emilia Jurin, Rachel Hay, Matthew Whittingham, Tamzin Truman, Jacob Wright, Alexa Roe, April Fletcher and Natalia Pritchard, take a bow.

The strength of the show lies in its slick production, pace and special effects, combined with the ability of the cast to work the audience. Here Richard Marquiss’ very physical style of comedy as Wishee Washee is to the fore, full of timing and enthusiasm. Director Tom Morris keeps the whole two hours going with a swing.

All the elements of a successful panto are included. Chris Grayson is suitably oily and odious, if a bit too fast-spoken early on, as Abanazar, conjuring up a storm of boos with every entrance.

Rebecca Taylor-Grayson is straight out of The Only Way is Essex as the Slave of the Ring and her speaking tone may go down better in Clacton than Lytham. She sings and dances much more appealingly.

Scott Wright, late of Corrie, makes the most of limited chances as the Genie and James Austin Harvey is both goofy and geeky as an unusual Emperor of China.

The vitality of the show partially masks the weakness of some of the humour. There are plenty of up-to-date TV jokes about Carl Fogerty and Len Goodman. However the commendable attempts to incorporate local references are sometimes wide of the mark, such as going to Stringers for a vajazzle. A notably distasteful reference to Grange Park was met by silence.

The considerable abilities of Chris D’Bray, compere at Funny Girls a while ago, are on full display, but too many of his gestures and asides completely mystified most of the audience and really good laughs were noticeable by their absence. Nevertheless the audience loved it and this reflects the hard work of the cast in a show which is bright on the eye and uses quality video production appropriately. Its run through to December 30 will add a further polish.

n Aladdin, Lowther Pavilion, until Tuesday, December 30, various times. Call (01253) 794221 to book.

JULIAN WILDE