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Review: Aladdin starring Justin Fletcher from CBeebies is New Victoria Theatre, Woking's 'best panto for years'

Mark Lundrigan watched Aladdin at Woking's New Victoria Theatre.

Justin Fletcher as Wishee Washee

With an alter-ego called Mr Tumble, its clear that Justin Fletcher was made for panto.

King of CBeebies he may be in the eyes of many children, but Fletcher is currently the undoubted star of this year's panto at Woking's New Victoria Theatre - Aladdin. After last year's successful turn as Buttons in the New Victoria's panto version of Cinderella, Fletcher returns as Wishee Washee in the story about the genie in the magic lamp.

His style of (over)acting is perfect from the minute he takes centre stage - he had the children eating out of the palm of his hand with his slapstick performance, while there were a lot of laughs for adults too.

Jason Sutton as Widow Twankey

As every year, Woking had the whole panto look spot on with glitzy costumes, perfect sets and a brilliant selection of songs for everyone to enjoy, young and old (for every One Direction and Pharrell track there's a Rolling Stones and A-ha song).

These are delivered perfectly by the whole cast (even Fletcher has a fine voice), especially former A1 boy band singer Ben Adams, who takes the title role. His fame peaked in 2000 when A1 scored two number one hits (including a cover of A-ha's Take On Me, which he belts out while on a magic carpet here), but he still has a great pair of lungs 14 years on, especially when singing ballads opposite love interest Princess Jasmine (Claire-Marie Hall), who also delivers the songs well.

Ben Adams as Aladdin and Claire-Marie Hall as Princess Jasmine
 

A talent in the making here is the Genie (Shaheen Jafargholi), who sings all his lines. The talented singer first shot to fame by wowing Simon Cowell on Britain's Got Talent five years ago, and this seems to be a further stepping stone to stardom for him.

The story of Aladdin itself is interspersed with some great routines, usually starring Fletcher and fellow comedy characters PC Pong (Steven Arnold - Coronation Street's Ashley Peacock) and/or the wonderful Widow Twankey (Jason Sutton), who wears an array of garish outfits, each outdoing the previous one. The stand-out routine is a rendition of The Twelve Days Of Christmas starring all three.

Steven Arnold, formerly Ashley Peacock in Coronation Street
 

Arnold is quite underused, in the second half especially, but when he's on stage he's hilariously channelling Les Dennis doing Mavis impressions whenever he opens his mouth. Sutton is also a brilliant partner for Fletcher, the two bouncing off each other perfectly.

A special mention must go to Steven Serlin who plays the villain of the piece, Abanazar, an evil magician who is after the magic lamp for himself. Serlin reminded me of thespian great Alan Rickman with his succinct delivery and snarling evil, which had the audience booing at the drop of a hat.

Justin Fletcher as Wishee Washee

This really was one of Woking's best panto in years, with all the perfect parts adding up to a satisfying, funny, raucous and entertaining whole.

Aladdin will be at New Victoria Theatre until January 10, 2015. For information about tickets and times, go to www.atgtickets.com .

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