At West Yorkshire Playhouse
AS Leeds labours under the icy grip of the coolest snap since the Fonz last clicked his fingers, bundled-up citizens all over the city are searching out whatever scrap of warmth they can find as they slip-slide their way home.
The good news is, they can now can call off the search. Here at the West Yorkshire Playhouse there's enough warmth radiating off the stage to melt a glacier. With this production of Aladdin, the theatre was ablaze with toasty, cockle-melting moments that left me with a Ready-Brek feeling for the rest of the night. Who needs gloves and a scarf when you feel this cosy inside?
Watching the show with my two nieces, aged five and eight, I was touched by their sparkly eyes and flag-waving enthusiasm. But it was my 33-year-old brother whose eyes really shone with excitement. Clapping his hands, stomping his feet, 'boo'-ing the baddy with abandon, his enjoyment was infectious. And as for his girlfriend – when she was flashed a twinkly grin by Aladdin (played with nonchalant charm by the rather dishy Gregory Bartlett), she blushed like a tomato and couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the night.
It's a clich to say that a show has something for everyone – but this production is so joyful, so full of life and packed with brilliant, funny, clever ideas that I would defy any family to come away from it without each and every one of them feeling a warm glow inside.
From its imaginative set, featuring the art work of children from local primary schools and a set of pots and pans put to spectacularly inventive use, to its use of music – at times haunting and melancholy, but mostly raucous and joyful – this Aladdin is simply marvellous.
For those who are familiar with the previous collaborations of Mike Kenny and Gail McIntyre, (The Snow Queen, for example), this will come as no surprise. The same theatrical techniques that have made their other productions so successful are employed even more impressively here. Instead of cranking up the central heating at home, it's worth braving the snow and ice for an evening that will leave you glowing with joy.