This year's Cast panto will bring Doncaster all the laughs and smiles you could wish for: Aladdin review
Warning: Your face will ache after watching this year’s pantomime at Cast.
That opening line might be as cheesy as some of the jokes on offer over more than two hours of brilliant family entertainment but I make no apologies for it.
There were multiple occasions across the opening night showing of Aladdin when I caught myself smiling between the laughter. And a quick glance around the theatre showed that I was not the only one.
The show was pure and simple fun from start to finish and well worth a couple of hours of your time in this festive period.
Much of the story is familiar - a down on his luck, daydreaming hero, a princess, a villain with eyes on world domination and, of course, a genie in a lamp.
But, being a pantomime, there are plenty of twists and tweaks, starting with the setting - a suburb of Peking named Doncaster.
Aladdin is the son of washerwoman Widow Tallulah Twankey (the brilliant Mark Stratton), whose ever-changing outfits are feats of architectural wonder. His sister Wishee (Sophie Ellicott) dreams of playing for the Belles - one of a plethora of nods to Doncaster life that also includes a nightclub that only the more mature members of the audience will remember.
Princess Jasmine spends most of her time in overalls, looking to chase her passion of engineering rather than palace life but held back by her mother the Empress, who simply wants her to find a rich and powerful husband.
The central couple - played by the thoroughly likeable Lladel Bryant and Alyce Liburd - are easy to root for in the chaos their surrounds their love story.
And there is a delightful scenery-chewing performance from Ian Crowe as flamboyant baddie Abanazar who the young members of the audience will love to hate.
Current chart hits and classics are given the re-write treatment to supplement the story, with a rejigged version of Funky Town standing out as a potential Doncaster town anthem.
A technical highlight is Aladdin’s wonderful magic carpet ride set to The Weeknd’s Blinded By The Lights that will leave you wondering how they managed to do it.
And the whole show is backed up by a youthful ensemble of singers and dancers who add to the grandeur of the big numbers.
Following on from Cast’s last pantomime prior to the pandemic, the show features full integration of British Sign Language - led by Katie Erich’s narrator Scheheradze and Aladdin’s lemur companion Lemmy, played by Connor Bryson.
The success of this is that it neither feels like a gimmic or crowbarred in but instead adds to the overall spectacle, while making the shows incredibly accessible.
There is something for absolutely everyone. Kids will love the slapstick and the audience participation while the grown-ups will appreciate the cheekiness as well as knowing nods such as the one to a late, great entertainer who provides the character inspiration for wish-granting Jean Genie (also Sophie Ellicott).
Listen out too for the special audio cameo from a distinctively-voiced Doncaster acting legend.
You’ll smile from start to finish.
Aladdin runs until New Year’s Eve at Cast. See castindoncaster.com for showtimes and ticket prices.