POOLE has raised the bar for this year's production. If pantos were like a box of crackers, this is the one that contains the jewel.
Certainly on Monday this week it was clear that it wasn't just the children who were having a good time, as the adults rose to their feet at the end to clap.
Running at two hours, including an interval, the scenes move quickly with no unnecessary padding, but with all the requisite parts which make English panto so unique.
Ray Quinn makes an endearing Aladdin, albeit one from Merseyside. Soap, X-Factor and Dancing on Ice star, he also has West End theatre credits. He shows he is equally at home on the panto stage building up a great rapport with the children, who clearly warmed to this young actor.
Don Maclean proves why he is in such demand as a panto performer - this is his 40th.
Cheeky, but not too risque, he fizzes with enthusiasm and provides laughs galore for all ages.
You'll certainly want to boo Abanazer, the baddie with the cowardly centre.
Tim Flavin, a West End favourite has immense stage presence, not to mention a voice to instil fear!
Neil Smye as the inept PC Bert and Dan Looney as the dim Wishee Washee all add to the comedy, whilst Alex Handy-Ferrie as Princess Jasmine and Sarah-Jane Dunsome as Genie of the Ring, provide the glamour.
Matthew McLoughlin is the Emperor and Evan James, a fine dancer, is Genie of the Lamp.
There is some excellent singing, dancing and characterisation from both the senior and junior choruses.
And the flying carpet sequence is simply magical.Aladdin runs until 6th January. Take the family, they'll all love it. MB