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Cheggers makes a triumphant return to Wyvern
9:46am Wednesday 12th December 2012 in Reviews
PANTOMIME is one of the best theatrical offerings of the year and this Wyvern production is no exception.
Aladdin, which runs until January 6, has everything you would expect from a traditonal family panto, and offers a lot more besides.
Keith Chegwin has returned once again, this time starring as the loveable Wishee Washee – and it’s clear the audience love him.
From the moment he walked out on to the stage with his famous cry of “Wahey” everyone in the auditorium, whether they were eight or 80, returned the cry with gusto.
The story of Aladdin is well known and this script sticks to the fairytale we all know and love.
There is a genie, a lamp, a flying carpet and even an elephant.
Compared with previous years, it felt like there were a lot more jokes with double meanings that adults could appreciate as well as the kids, and there are plenty of flashes, bangs and wallops for your theatre-going bucks.
It is a panto that means business and aims to thrill and entertain the audience from the moment the curtain goes up.
Liam Ross-Mills, who plays title role, is a confident performer who endears himself to the crowd immediately. His opening number, a version of Olly Murs’ hit Dance With Me Tonight, had everyone clapping and singing along.
Lauren Varnham is delightful as Princess Jasmine, bringing a feistiness to the role, Nick Barclay is brilliant as The Emperor, Suzie Chard gives the Genie an Essex makeover, Seren Sandham-Davies is charming as the Slave of the Ring and Ian Mowat as Widow Twankee is one of the funniest panto dames I have seen in years.
And praise must also go to the ensemble and juvenile dancers who sing and dance their hearts out.
However, the star turn of the night came from David Ashley, who was an Ugly Sister in last year’s production of Cinderella, and this year plays the evil Abanazar. His two aims in life are to rule the world (I may be paraphrasing here) and to become a popstar. And almost every other line sees him bursting into song – from Jay-Z and Pink to Sister Sledge and Queen.
Although he is the baddie, you find yourself wanting to clap and cheer for him instead of booing, so brilliant are these little musical turns.
It is a line I write every year but once again the Wyvern Theatre has outdone itself with its annual pantomime.
I can’t wait to see what they do with Jack and the Beanstalk in 2013. - Stephanie Tye