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ROCK ‘N’ ROLL ALADDIN BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE

Aladdin - British Theatre Guide

Review by Simon Sladen - 2009


We’ve all heard of triple threat performers; well, those in Aladdin at the Shaw Theatre, London are a rare bread of performer known as the quadruple threat. Not only can they sing, act and dance, but they all play numerous musical instruments to accompany the show.


This Aladdin has a rock ’n’ roll theme, which includes lively musical numbers such as ‘I’m a believer’ and ‘Make you a star’; all superbly played and performed by the talented cast.


Graham Kent as Widow Twankey is most definitely a man in a dress, or should we say man of many dresses? Dressed as a pagoda, a washing machine and an oriental vase at various points throughout the show, Kent commands the stage and enjoys many a comic caper with Chris Coxon as Wishee Washee.


Coxon is a sprightly Wishee who has the children screaming with delight each time he bounces onto the stage. At his command the audience shout with pleasure “We all think you’re dishy” to his call of “Wishee Washee Wishee”.


Someone who does find Wishee dishy is So-Shi played by Susannah Van Den Berg; a sabre wielding comic handmaiden to a beautiful Princess Baldroubadour (Tara Nelson). It is nice to see the 1001 Nights’ name still in use today after Disney’s Jasmine taking over since the film of 1992. It is almost impossible for any production to ignore Disney’s influence over the genre and nods to the House of Mouse are still present in the form of Abanaza’s staff and a flying carpet.


As this is a rock-panto, there’s no time for slow ballads: high octane energy is the name of the game. Here the cast act, sing, dance and play throughout the night as if they are sponsored by Duracell. For the entire running time of the show the atmosphere in the theatre is electric.


Multi-roling is a key concept for Jess Robinson as she tackles Slave of the Ring and Emperor Hee Shee / Empress Shee Hee. The name itself hints at the blurring of genders and Robinson does well to create a somewhat schizophrenic Chinese ruler with some facial hair funny business providing much laughter in Act Two. As Slave of the Ring she teams up with Wishee Washee to deliver a contemporary pop music, Susan Boyle encompassing, re-make of the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’, providing her with the opportunity to show off her great impersonation skills.


The theatrical space is well used, with actors entering and exiting through the auditorium. So besotted were the children of the audience with Oliver Seymour-Marsh’s Aladdin that they mobbed him rock star style as he made his final triumphant exit from the stage; for many this was their first theatrical and concert experience concurrently.


Writers Will Brenton and Iain Lauchlan, creators of ‘The Tweenies’, have used their skill and expertise to create a fantastic script for this family show. Widow Twankey says, “There’s nothing like blowing your own trumpet” and with a production as good as this, she deserves to blow it loud and proud.