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I’ve been desperately trying to get into the Christmas spirit recently. You may have seen my recent film review for the new festive flick, Krampus. It was good but didn’t give me the feeling I was looking for. I’ve visited every local garden centre to look at the seasonal lights… but nothing.

But now, having just returned from seeing Aladdin – the latest panto at the Key Theatre –as if by magic, it did the trick. You can always rely on a good panto to give you that Christmassy sensation!

Aladdin is the much loved story of a poor boy (played by Sally Peerless) who finds fortune thanks to a genie in a magic lamp.

It ticks all the boxes for everything you’d want to see in a panto. It also features all the characters you’d expect to see as well. Alongside Aladdin himself (herself) are favourites such as Widow Twankey (Darren Machin), Wishee Washee (James Peake) and the evil Abanazar (Robin Johnson).

Each add something to the mix but the audience favourite seemed to be Wishee Washee. After the show, I spoke to James Peake about playing such an iconic role.

I asked if he felt the pressure. “Absolutely,” he said. “It’s a character that everybody knows and loves and you want to get it right so badly. Based on the audience reaction, I’m pleased with how it went.”

Once you’ve seen the panto, you’ll see how exhausting it must be for the actor to keep the energy so high throughout the entire show. “It’s the audience that carry you through it,” he told me.

“When you see people laughing, singing and clapping along – it’s gives you more than enough energy.”

I asked Sally Peerless (Aladdin) what makes this panto so different to the others locally. She explained, “The people you see on stage are not just actors, singers and dancers. The cast are also the band! People seem to love the fact that we do a bit of everything.”

The jokes can be a little cringe-worthy at times – as they can with most pantos – but the songs more than make up for that. You’ll be clapping along and having a great time throughout.

The intimate atmosphere of the Key Theatre auditorium ensures you feel part of the fun and the many references directed at Peterborough had local people giggling. Most places get a mention with Peterborough United and even the Cathedral falling victim to a few jokes too!

The show may be just a little too long for the much younger kids, and you could hear some of them becoming restless towards the end, but overall this is everything you want and more from the festive tradition that is pantomime.

Don’t miss out on Aladdin at the Key Theatre in Peterborough running from now until January 3, 2016.

Box office: 01733 207239.

Mikey Clarke

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