ALADDIN | London, New Wimbledon Theatre

In this year’s highly anticipated Wimbledon Christmas pantomime, Lee Ryan heads up the cast as Aladdin — fans of former boyband Blue are rewarded with a rehashing of their hit ‘One Love’ when he meets Jasmine (Lauren Chia). There are other family favourites too, including an audience sing-along for Wicked‘s ‘Defying Gravity’.

In his panto debut, comedy star Paul Merton’s dry wit and frequent ad-libbing as Widow Twanky reduced even his fellow cast members to fits of uncontrollable giggles. Pete Firman is hilariously endearing as the hapless Wishy Washy, and Linda John-Pierre is delightfully formidable as The Empress.

One of the strengths of this pantomime are the many magical moments, including a foray into the digital realm: audience members are given 3D glasses and are treated to a thrilling, immersive magic carpet ride, although this may be a little frightening for the very young.

The sophisticated special effects (The Twins FX) are only enhanced by marvellous lighting (Alex Marshall) and set design (QDOS Entertainment). The dazzling costumes (Mike Coltman) also deserve a particular shout-out – Widow Twanky’s outfits become increasingly ridiculous, a highlight being her arrival on stage dressed as a Chinese takeaway and announcing, “I’m in the middle of my dinner”.

Aladdin at the New Wimbledon Theatre is a star-studded romp: a night of witty humour for the adults, wonder for the kids, and a hearty helping of Christmas magic for the whole family.

Join Aladdin on his magic carpet ride until 6 January 2019.

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