Top panto fun with Biggins and co

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During its 150th anniversary, the Theatre Royal was always going to push the boat out for the panto season, writes John Shawcross.

This year’s choice offers the familiar tale of genies, a new lamps for old scam and the mystic mayhem that is Aladdin.

The theatre never misses a trick when it comes to lavish, colourful spectaculars and this is no exception.

For a start, there are returning old friends in Christopher Biggins (pictured) as Widow Twankey and Ben Nickless (Wishee Washee).

Simon Webbe, star of boy band Blue, must have wondered what he was letting himself in for when teaming up as the title character with Biggins and Nickless but the whole thing radiates fun and the trio blend particularly well.

Biggins is, well, just Biggins, with innumerable costume changes and outrageous dresses.

Webbe demonstrates some of the steps he picked up on Strictly, treats us to some of Blue’s back catalogue, including One Love, and enjoys a magic carpet ride.

But the star is Nickless, who carries the show along. He has a wonderful rapport with the children and repeats his success in similar roles over the past two Yuletide visits to Nottingham.

There is good support from Paul Gabriel, Emile Du Leslay and Kimberley Blake and plenty of boos for James Barron’s baddie.

An exhibition features posters and programmes from pantos and Christmas shows since 1865, with a special dressing-up area for children and families. This runs for the duration of Aladdin until Saturday January 10.

Photo by Tracey Whitefoot