Review: Bradwell Centenary Players shine in Aladdin

A whole new world opens up for packed audiences watching Bradwell Centenary Players’ colourful panto.

This week’s production of Aladdin introduces daleks and dancing skeletons, a petulant princess and a ditty from The Pirates of Penzance to the traditional tale.

Centenary Players present Aladdin at Bradwell Memorial Hall

Centenary Players present Aladdin at Bradwell Memorial Hall

Two dames tread the boards, the genie of the ring is as camp as they come and Aladdin flees Abanaza’s evil clutches in a taxi rather than jumping aboard the technically tricky magic carpet.

There’s even a bird hovering over cast members as they take their final bow.

Stuart Arden’s script offers plenty of scope for Bradda’s finest thespians to put their mark on it. There’s shout-outs aplenty for village businesses who have sponsored the panto, personalities who play a big part in the life of the community and golf-mad dads who abandon their wives at weekends to play a round or two of their favourite sport.

This panto is the epitome of community teamwork with more than 20 young people making up the junior chorus, 12 members in the senior chorus and 14 playing named characters.

The title role is in the capable hands of the panto’s artistic director Alison Benefield, founder of Storybag Theatre Company, whose professional experience speaks volumes. She gives a gloriously over-the-top performance as the lovelorn Aladdin, swooning over a video of the princess enjoying the attractions of Bradwell, flailing her arms like helicopter rotor blades in A Whole New World song and revving up the audience throughout the show.

Charlotte Winterbottom sparkles in the role of Princess Martini, giving it plenty of attitude as a spoilt little rich girl. Her singing is as much a tonic as her acting.

A wizard performance from Nick McCloud as the wicked uncle Abanaza is complemented by Sarah Askew, who maintains a difficult Chinese accent throughout in her role as Won Tun. The pair lead a chorus of skeletons in Bad Romance, one of the most popular songs of the panto.

Andrew Judge scrubs up well as Widow Twanky with a colourful performance to match his outfits and shines in his signature song, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.

Dame honours also go to Phil Granby in the role of the princess’s assistant Ting Ming.

Andy Bowes plays the likeable Liverpool lad Wishy Washy, John Horstead the effeminate Genie of the Ring and Janet Maskery is the sweet-bearing Genie of the Lamp.

Ken MacKenzie is cast as the golf-loving Emperor and Julie Mackenzie as his haughty Empress.

Three youngsters get their chance to shine in named roles. Sophie Charles and Abbie Kirwin play the roles of Inspector Chu Chu and Megan Pembleton plays the superfit Major Domo.

The quality of performances is a credit to panto director and producer Iain Winterbottom while the colourful costumes and eye-catching backdrops are a cut above most village pantos.

Aladdin, directed and produced by Iain Winterbottom, continues at Bradwell Memorial Hall until Saturday, February 22. You’d be Chinese crackers to miss it.