YOU almost certainly know the story of Aladdin, most recently thanks to Disney and various films, but if the back story is missing, you will need to go to Poole to find out more.
Local pantomime favourite Chris Jarvis has not only written and directed this new version, but also stars as Widow Twankey, mother of the hero and his brother Wishee Washee. The three of them work in a laundry but Aladdin spends most of his time climbing the walls of the palace to scrump apples and gaze at the princess, and it’s not allowed.
That’s the bit you know, but at Poole the story starts with the magical beings, the Spirit of the Ring and the Genie of the Lamp. Poor old Genie (here played by the hilarious and multi-accented Alim Jadavji) has been imprisoned in the lamp for centuries, and just wants his freedom. He and the ring fairy hatch up a plan to hide the lamp so that it is well beyond the clutches of the evil Professor Pocus (more usually known as Abanazar). Here the first of Poole’s inventive projections – a drone-swoop from the theatre round Poole and out across the bay to Old Harry Rocks and beyond, stopping at a Purbeck cave – delights the audience.
There is lots of aerial work here, in addition to Aladdin’s famous magic carpet ride – and great fun it is.
Andrew Pollard (Prof Pocus) was at Poole last year, where he and Alim made up the wonderful and award winning duo of Nadine and Doris. Now he returns as a glamorous nasty with rock star chops and the fatal flaw of narcissism (one of today’s most fashionable conditions.)
Benjamin Armstrong is a loveably almost-courageous Aladdin, and Josh Haberfield a witty and bright Wishee (a welcome change from the usual dolt). The palace is ruled with a rod of iron by Queen Jo Michaels Barrington, and it’s no wonder that Princess Jasmine (the delightful Ionica Adriana) wants to get away. Once she and the apple-thieving Aladdin lock eyes … well you know that bit.
Stephanie Walker stepped in late to the role of the Spirit of the Ring, and she has just the right amount of energy and fun to carry it off.
Look out for the very clever routines-with-a-twist – the ghost scene and the 12 days of Christmas are show-stoppers.
This is a show for all the family, with enough topical and local jokes to entertain the “grown-ups” and lots of knockabout and participation for the children.