Read time:2 minute, 4 seconds

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Simon Bashford and Nicole Faraday dazzle in a kookie rehash of Aladdin at the Harlequin Theatre, Redhill.

There is a masterclass in one of Britain’s finest traditions – the pantomime Dame – to be found in Redhill in Surrey, just 38 minutes from London’s Victoria. Simon Bashford plays Widow Twankey, mother to Aladdin, and for the most part, steals the show! Simon is a local favourite and provides all his own costumes. Traditionally, a dame never appears in the same costume twice, and Simon does not disappoint. His coiffured wigs are a delight as he struts the stage in a tribute to Lady GaGa. He delights with his naughty innuendos and brilliant comic timing. He is, without a doubt, one of the finest dames I have had the pleasure to see, and I have seen many in my time. It also reinforces how panto is a craft and takes time to learn. Simon shows how you cannot just jump from a reality show with little experience and put on this kind of performance. 

Playing the evil villainess Abanazar is former Bad Girls actress and friend of OutNewsGlobal Nicole Faraday. Traditionally a male role, Faraday makes the part her own. She darkens the stage with her alluring wickedness and just pure talent, bringing the house down with her commanding voice in numbers such as “Death is Just Around the Corner” and “I will Prevail”

A bright new talent takes to the stage in the title role of Aladdin – Daniel Hall. Hall is enthusiastic and gives it his all: he is not an obvious choice for the role – more cheeky chappie than leading man but, for all that, immensely likeable. His rendition of “Blinded by the Light” on a flying carpet was one of the highlights of the show. You cannot help but wonder, with his incredible singing voice and given a little direction, if Daniel, who’s in his final year studying for a BA in Musical Theatre, will be a name to be reckoned with in a few years’ time. The audience loved him. While Faraday works as a female baddie, the Genie of the Lamp, played Neil Wheatley via video link, was a let-down for me. I felt that a good Genie is a vital part of this Panto story and you need the Genie to be upfront and present. However, in these difficult times, it was wonderful to see a cast stand together and put on a stellar show. highly recommended.

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Steven Smith

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