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Aladdin, Mercury Theatre, Colchester

It was a joy to be back at the mercury tonight and to witness yet again, another Mercury Pantomime after such a long break. We all know theatres have struggles during the pandemic, as well as all the actors. And there was a great sense of love in the auditorium tonight. We were able to return to live theatre and panto at Christmas time.

The Mercury always offers a high standard of production, and every year has to top their previous productions, and this year was not a disappointment. The glorious sets are always impressive. And having seen them being made much earlier in the year, we could truly appreciate what we were able to see. In addition, the Mercury Theatre has now pushed itself with even more special effects with the flying guitar, which gives us an extra dimension and certainly the younger members in the rows in front of us were suitably impressed.

I should also mention the costumes and the attention to detail, the colours and the sparkles were glorious. In particular, the Dames costumes with the range of pinks and non hair wigs were a perfect example of creativity and yet embraced the theme.

This was the first time I witnessed British Sign Language and a sign interpreter being used in a Mercury Theatre production. And god bless Martin for taking this on, as there were so many ad libs he had to adjust to, plus being bashed by doors, etc. And was all taken with an excellent humour and such professionalism. It was also lovely to see so many of the cast taking on sign language, both in certain aspects of their performance and songs, making it even more inclusive.

It's great to see Anthony Stewart Hicks, back as the Dame and seeing him back on stage in Colchester is like coming home. He's cheeky, he's saucy. But he never offends. And God bless ‘Roger’ and the ‘posh woman’ in the audience for being such good sports and taking it all in their stride and not being offended. Everything Anthony did was perfectly timed and it was great to see him back on his high heels giving us a fantastic performance. Anthony has honed his craft so well, he knows how to work an audience and give the audience such a fantastic time.

Dale Superville is now another Mercury Theatre Panto fixture. His cheeky personality is always a joy. His Humphrey the Camel was so well played, his funny walk, his facial expressions and the pure naughtiness he brings. When you get Anthony and Dale together on stage magic happens.

We really loved it tonight when Aladdin played by James Hameed forgot his dialogue and then had to cope with Dale using his extra quick wit and perfect comedy timing to make him replay the scene and eventually giving in and taking him on to the next scene. These are the moments the audience truly love and it's great to feel that we're part of it.

There are some great comedy moments from David Djamal and Marissa Harris as the police constables Nee and Naw. And we particularly liked Sasha Latoya as the genie of the lamp her vocals were fantastic. Minal Patel was an impressive emperor and his scene in the Spa was very enjoyable.

It's clear that this has been a show full of love and humour from the entire cast and the Panto Chorus and the magic was another fantastic addition. It was great to see that Michael J Fitch collaborated with the theatre to give some excellent magic tricks They always add an extra special touch and the children and those around us couldn't get enough of the magic tricks.

All in all, the Mercury panto came back with a bang, giving a joyous evening of entertainment and long may it continue. I understand the run is almost sold out but if you can get a ticket we strong urge you to do so.

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