Growing up in Canada I never had the chance to attend the experience known as panto as it just isn’t a thing to do in the middle of the prairies.

Now that I have lived in Swindon for a good long while, my family and I have immersed ourselves in the distinctly British tradition of the Christmas panto over the past few years.

This years’ presentation of Aladdin starring Adam Woodyatt at the Wyvern Theatre did not disappoint. I went in expecting a Disney-esque presentation as that is the only Aladdin that I have ever known. What I got was so much more with singing, dancing, slapstick comedy, jokes and some of the biggest smiles I have ever seen on my childrens’ faces.

Gary Jerry as Wishee Washee and Neil Bromley as Widow Twankey engaged the theatre goers so perfectly that audience participation was not only expected but mandatory.

Adam Woodyatt looked like he was having great fun playing the role of the villan Abanazar. Even my four-year-old daughter noticed this when she said that she liked everyone, even the bad guy. Not much higher praise can be had when your daughter blurts out “I love this, I LOVE THIS!” at the top of her voice.

The juvenile chorus dancers supported the principle actors with their tight choreography and frequent quick costume changes.

The sets were beautifully done and in particular the transformation of the cave of wonders into Aladdin’s palace was spectacular. The sight of Aladdin’s flying carpet floating in the air had my son speechless.

We experienced a great family night out with no iPad screens or Fortnite in sight but I am still trying to work out how the baby shark song fit so perfectly into a Christmas panto.

Ian Parker