Billy Pearce once again heads up this year’s panto, celebrating 20 consecutive years at The Alhambra where LEO OWEN caught the show

DIRECTOR Ed Curtis transports us to Twankey’s in Old Peking where the genie’s “chosen one”, Aladdin (Simon Webbe), lives. His nemesis Abanazar (David O’Mahony) seeks him out after a failed attempt at entering the magical cave.

O’Mahony’s strong vocals in his opening song make him the show’s stand-out performer, of course alongside Pearce, who holds it all together as Wishee Washee. Surprisingly Webbe’s vocals are the weakest but a duet with a slightly shrill Princess Jasmine (Sarah Goggin) is more tuneful. Christopher Biggins is Pearce’s comic coupling as Widow Twankey, making a customary spectacular stage entrance from a giant cake.

Completing the cast, Emily Beth Harrington plays Scheherzade (Aladdin’s magical guardian), ably belting out “Defying Gravity” to accompany the show’s most extravagant sequence as Wishee and Aladdin fly across the stage and audience knelt upon the infamous magic carpet. In other special effects, this year’s obligatory 3D segment depicts a second act carpet ride to Egypt, rescuing Jasmine and the lamp.

The show of course includes lots of Bradford name-dropping and plenty of embarrassing audience participation. Memorable comic interludes include tongue twisters with Widow Twankey, Wishee and Abanazar; a funny lip-synching conversation; appearances from a very Yorkshire genie and a particularly hilarious “travelling minstrel” routine.

Musical Supervisor Gary Hind makes good use of famous song tunes with substituted lyrics. Glitzy and suitably seasonal, Aladdin boasts colourful Peking-themed costumes and sets in festive gold and red. Closing costumes are truly spectacular and the scale of Twankey’s wardrobe is especially impressive. 2018 is another good vintage for Bradford’s panto.

Aladdin shows at the Alhambra Theatre December 8th-January 20th 2019: