EastEnders Jack and flying fingers of Super-Dame Bobby inspire Panto launch

by Jeremy Miles

What not to wear in the Queen Vic. EastEnders Scott Maslen as Abanazar. Picture by Hattie Miles

What not to wear in the Queen Vic. EastEnders Scott Maslen as Abanazar. Picture by Hattie Miles

Aladdin: Bournemouth Pavilion

With EastEnders tough guy Scott Maslen camping it up as Abanazar in a whirl of Arabian silks and posh accents, this is a pantomime that delivers the unexpected with considerable style. During his 600 plus outings as Albert Square’s Jack Branning, Maslen had a tendency to get into all sort sorts of bovver. If it wasn’t woman trouble he was getting beaten-up and shot. It must have been very trying. No wonder then that, let loose on Pantoland, he’s clearly enjoying trouble of a slightly gentler kind here. It works a treat too.

Bobby Crush as Widow Twankey  Picture: Hattie Miles

Bobby Crush as Widow Twankey Picture: Hattie Miles

Together with a larger-than-life Dame – Bobby Crush’s alarmingly orange-haired washer-woman Widow Twankey – he provides the main focus of this classic lamp-rubbing, ring-buffing, genie-bating adventure. Writer and director, CBeebies children’s entertainer Chris Jarvis, keeps the action moving as Twankey’s hapless son, Wishee Washee, while his brother Aladdin (Richard Vincent) chases a rags to riches dream in the hope of marrying beautiful Princess Jasmine (Jamie Lee Mason).

It’s a tough task. Evil Abanazar has his eye on world domination and unfortunately destroying Aladdin and taking possession of his dusty old magic lamp are crucial to his dastardly game-plan. Happily, good triumphs in the end. Along the way we are treated to loads of slapstick fun with crazy shenanigans in the laundry, ghosties and ghoulies, a whole bundle of knockabout nonsense from panto policeman PC Ping (Nicholas Khan) and some shockingly corny jokes.

There’s the inevitable and much-loved audience participation and plenty of song and dance plus a welter of local references for the Bournemouth Pavilion audience ranging from the late and decidedly unlamented iMax building to a magic cave that is apparently handily “tucked away in Tuckton”. With the excellent Bobby Crush on board it is only a matter of time before a piano appears, providing Twankey with the opportunity to set her fingers flying for an inspired rock ’n’ roll medley. It’s impressive stuff.

Aladdin plays The Bournemouth Pavilion until Sunday January 5th

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