Aladdin was first seen on the London stage as far back as 1788, although rumours backstage at the Theatre Royal Bath that the doyen of British dames, Chris Harris, was cast as the original Widow Twankey have been denied. It just seems that Harris has been delighting audiences at Christmas-time forever, with almost a decade as dame at the Bristol Old Vic followed by six years at Bath.
After a lower key than usual start this time round, he again combines his amazing wardrobe and warmth of personality with the role of director of a show that offers a whole raft of delights. Backing up Harris are two other locally-based players - Clive Mantle, who sheds his TV's heartthrob persona to cast his evil spell as the villainous Abanazar, and television presenter Jon Monie, a lively and likeable Wishee Washee.
Chris Till, yet another exile from television presenting, wins the teenage vote in the title role, opposite Laureen James's winsome Princess Jasmine. Rather like this country, there appear to be fewer policemen on the streets of old Peking than there used to be, but Byron Mondahl proves large enough in both high-octane mannerisms and size for two.