Full of Peckham Promise

PUBLISHED: 13:31 03 January 2012

Weston Playhouse - launch of this year's pantomime, Aladdin. Jason Sutton as Widow Twankey with children from Tina Counsel's School of Dance.

Weston Playhouse - launch of this year's pantomime, Aladdin. Jason Sutton as Widow Twankey with children from Tina Counsel's School of Dance.

Archant

AS DEL-BOY would say, 'he who dares Boycie...he who dares' and as far as Pantomime baddies go actor John Challis is right up there in the list of winners for The Playhouse, in Weston.

Its festive spectacular Aladdin combines a glittering cast of the funny and beautiful with an amazing array of over-the-top costumes and clever sets.

But it was the charismatic Only Fools and Horses and The Green Green Grass star who, despite parents having to explain to the younger generation who he is, immediately had the audience of cubs, scouts and beavers out of their seats booing and hissing at the tops of their voices, as the evil magician Abanazar.

The cast, including many seasoned panto performers, had an easier task than usual with an already warmed up audience of groups of children who had been happily chatting in their packs before the show.

Nevertheless comedy double act Simmons and Simmons shone as the glue which held the show together, with their hilarious routines as policemen Sgt Me and PC You.

One of the funniest scenes involved people with equally silly names like Why, What and I Don’t Know, which reduced even grown men to tears of laughter.

And veteran cross-dresser Jason Sutton delivered soap-sud silliness as the dame Widow Twankey, with each scene’s costume change more outrageous than the last.

But Aladdin’s twin brother Wishee Washee, played by Terry Gleed, was the children’s favourite, engaging them with a slightly camp audience participation repartee including various sized fishes and a limp Mexican wave.

Cute Hollyoaks actor Craig Daniel Adams in the title role and the gorgeous Cat Sandion from CITV’s Hi-5 as Princess Jasmine, both gave excellent performances and played out a convincing love story.

Royal Opera star Paul Arden-Griffiths also stood out as Emperor Chop Suey giving magnificent renditions of well-known opera songs as well as the obligatory Go Compare advert.

A back up cast of energetic dancers including little ones from the town’s Tina Counsell School of Dance and Drama brought the stage alive, as did the blinding special effects.

The Paul Holman Associates production yet again provided everything it says on the tin - slap-stick humour, topical jokes, local references, pop songs and innuendo were all there, oh yes, they were.

All in all, a veritable feast of warmth and laughter, full of Eastern promise, which got everyone in the mood for Christmas.

Aladdin runs until January 8, with evening and matinee performances.

Tickets costing £18 for adults and £16.50 for children and senior citizens are available from the box office on 01934 645544 or online at www.theplayhouse.co.uk

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