Grant Stott’s That’s Fife might have the subjects of the Kingdom over the water cheesin’, but he’s not the only Edinburgh lad to have entertained Fifers recently.
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At the Alhambra in Dunfermline, that honour falls to Any Dream Will Do star Craig Chalmers and TV’s Raven, James McKenzie.
Both appear in Aladdin, the Alhambra’s second venture into pantoland. Aladdin, the poor son of a laundry owner, falls head over heals with Princess Jasmine. Meanwhile, the evil Abanazar sets off in search of a magic lamp, guaranteed to bring him power and wealth – there’s just one problem, he needs Aladdin’s help. You know the story.
In Lawrie McNicol’s fast-paced production, old-school values shine through like the gems Aladdin stumbles upon in the cave scene, which is wonderfully executed. Set pieces, local references – including an impressive filmed insert of nearby landmarks – and a dame to die for, in the form of Stephen Docherty, make this production a delight from start to finish.
Chalmers is an energetic, ever-smiling, charismatic Aladdin. McKenzie’s Abanazar is an evil creation with just the right hint of campness to diffuse the moments that could so easily become scary for the little ones.
As the Princess Jasmine, Emma Soraya Beard has a clear singing voice, while local girl Jill Nadin brings precise comic timing to the Princess’ hand-maiden So-Shy before, quick as a flash, turning in a stint as a very glamorous Genie of the Lamp.
Widow Twankey is, for many, the dame of dames, and in Docherty this production has something a bit special. Confident, brash and loveable, there’s a Harvey Fierstein-esque feel to the way he drops his voice to a raspy rumble to deliver killer lines.
Teamed with David Ashwood’s subservient Wishee Washee it’s a double act that works.
Aladdin is Alhambra’s second panto of recent times and with just a two-week run could be easily overlooked, however this production offers firm foundations on which to build for next year’s proposed month-long run.