Aladdin review: The Capitol, Horsham, until December 31

It’s quite the Christmas treat to see The Capitol pantomime back in town once again after last year’s Covid cancellations.

From Aladdin’s clever animated opening to its opulent happy ending, Horsham families are clearly overjoyed that the venue has put on a great show for 2021.

It’s a fantastically fun magic-carpet-ride of a production, offering silly slapstick, corny wordplay, gaudy costumes and, of course, those classic panto routines that we all know and love.

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Toby Miles is our dashing titular hero who throws himself into the singing and dancing with gusto, nailing the playful, high-energy choreography by Sundeep Saini.

Toby Miles in Aladdin at The Capitol, Horsham. Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg.

Rosie Cava-Beale shares a good on-stage chemistry with him as the elegant Princess Amirah, giving the character a relatable rebellious streak as a woman who wants to defy royal traditions.

As expected though, it’s the funnier characters that are the kids’ favourites.

Dan Smith is game for all sorts of nonsense as Widow Twankey, dressing up in ridiculous outfits, delivering lines that go over the little ones’ heads and repeatedly flirting with one lucky man in the audience.

Maybe sit near the back, guys.

Toby Miles and Rosie Cava-Beale in Aladdin at The Capitol, Horsham. Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

Emma Ralston, meanwhile, gets the youngsters firmly on her side as the scooter-riding tomboy Frankie Twankey, offering dimwitted observations, boundless enthusiasm and a fun catchphrase.

Anthony Reed is a particularly English kind of sultan, blathering and dithering and giving orders in a way that suggests he’s probably not born to rule.

There’s even some much-appreciated jokes that he’s like a certain British politician who apparently can’t make up his mind.

Siobhan Athwal has probably the most difficult job in the show, playing both the Genie of the Lamp and the Genie of the Ring, sometimes in the same scene.

Dan Smith as Widow Twankey in Aladdin at The Capitol, Horsham. Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg.

She distinguishes them neatly through switching her accents and mannerisms with some minimal and clever costume changes.

Cavin Cornwall plays a very memorable and off-beat villain for a pantomime.

Dressed in a natty, tight-fitting suit, Abanazar sneers out all the wicked taunts you’d expect (and gets plenty of boos in the process), but Cavin’s flamboyant mannerisms give him this fascinating Jim Carrey-esque edge.

He’s definitely a highlight of the show and seems to embody the larger attempt to do something a bit more modern with the format this year.

Cavin Cornwall as Abanazar in Aladdin at The Capitol, Horsham. Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg.

Aladdin takes place in a middle east that looks suspiciously like Horsham, complete with a bandstand that features the show’s actual band (under musical director Alice Brown) in one original touch.

It uses amusing postcards and photos for its backdrops and, during an enchanting flying carpet scene, makes excellent use of projected video.

Kudos to director Zoë Waterman and the backstage team for pulling off something different.

But, for all its modern touches, this show doesn’t forget to include its tried and tested elements.

There’s a great ‘it’s behind you’ scene, an extended sequence of fish puns and an Abbott and Costello style wordplay routine that gets some hearty laughs.

The songs are top-notch too, remixing old pop-favourites like ELO’s ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ to give them that distinctly panto vibe.

Siobhan Athwal in Aladdin at The Capitol, Horsham. Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg.

Congratulations has to go to the dance team under captain Yamit Salazar and the entire rest of the ensemble who have clearly put in the work to deliver some wonderful performances.

There are too many others in the crew to mention individually, but they have all pulled together to make sure The Capitol’s pantomime returns in stunning style.