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Aladdin chalked up more UK box office business than any other pantomime last Christmas. Some of its traditional strengths shine through in this Theatre Royal Bath version – with a second half in an altogether different enjoyment league from its earlier scenes.

First impression are unfavourably coloured by ditch-water dull sets of old Peking and jokes where the only highlight is cribbed straight from Dad`s Army. But when the second act curtain rises on the first of a number of lively production numbers, backed up by an exhilarating flying carpet scene, it is as if Loula Geater`s knowing Slave of the Ring has woven her magic spell.

Two of the most familiar characters in pantomime, Abanazar and Widow Twankey, suddenly spring to life in the experienced hands of soap opera regular Bill Ward and veteran dame Nick Wilton respectively, while Bath panto regular Jon Monie slots in much more comfortably as Wishee Washee.

Even children`s television presenter Mark Rhodes gets over the earlier suspicion that his Aladdin is being cradle-snatched by Gemma Naylor`s Princess Jasmine, while for good measures both the sets and the costumes appear to have discovered fresh sparkle

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