You may be forgiven for believing you're in Swindon but in fact you're taken far away to the Oriental town of Swinyon for this year's production of Aladdin. Fronted by TV funny-man Keith Chegwin this intimate theatre is filled with magic and a welcoming charm.
The star-crossed lovers are West End star of Hairspray and We Will Rock You Lauren Varnham as Princess Jasmine and Liam Ross-Mills as Aladdin. Having seen Lauren countless times in both of her recent West End appearances I knew she would be more than up to the job. She proves to be the perfect princess in appearance, character and her vocals are second to none. Equally as charming is Aladdin, Liam Ross-Mills makes a wonderful lead and his version of A Whole New World whilst floating around the stage on a magic carpet is one of the many highlights.
Keith Chegwin has bundles of energy and is excellent at enthusing the audience. He has great accuracy it seems as not only did he spray a water gun jet directly into my face, but threw my favourite Quality Street chocolate straight into my lap. It was the strawberry one...
David Ashley is the evil Abanazer and proved quite scary when he entered the auditorium next to a nursery school group. The musical theatre veteran showcased his skill honed during his time in Starlight Express and one scene involved him roller skating around the stage. A classic and perfected baddie! Nick Barclay is a pleasant contrast as the the bumbling Emperor.
Widow Twankey isn't the most glamorous of dames, she has a bra that was meant to hold three and works in a laundry shop, bless her, but Ian Mowat particularly in the Born This Way routine proved that there is a diva within her who's outfits are some very colourful creations.
The glitz and glamour comes in the shape of Suzie Chard who presents an Essex-girl Genie, who sparkles and shines her way through. Her charisma fills the stage and even during moments of uncertainty after an incident with a pyro she carried the scene through to the end smoothly. The cave scene is another show highlight that begins with a rendition of I Am What I Am with backing from the Laine Theatre Arts ensemble - Jabari Braham, Michael Lin, Thomas Russell, Seren Sandham-Davis and Zac Watts.
The musical arrangements by Ben Kennedy are a delight, there is a mix of chart and musical theatre. Direction and Choreography by Andrew Wright is to the highest standard as expected with recent work including Singing In The Rain (Palace Theatre) the UK tour of Wonderful Town and a revival of 42nd Street (Chicester Festive Theatre and the Curve, Leicester). Additional choreography for the show is provided by Aaron Renfree, also a Laine's graduate. Aaron's choreography is always fresh, exciting and current and it is great to see that in such tradition-bound pantomime theatre.
Aladdin runs at the Swindon Wyvern Theatre until Sunday 6th January 2013 and you can book tickets here: https://wyverntheatre.org.uk/Online/default.asp?doWork::WScontent::loadArticle=Load&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::article_id=35166970-7B07-47FF-9EE1-5CFF13B5C8E9 or by calling the box office on 01793 524 481.