This year marks a new era for the Cheltenham Everyman with a new director in the form of Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan, who brought a fresh breath of life to the play.
Ben Darcy and Grace Eccle as Aladdin and the Princess bring gorgeous voices and strong main characters to the show. They are outshone by the regionally (and probably nationally) adored Tweedy the clown.
There is no bigger local legend than Tweedy the clown. His slapstick is second to none, jokes slick and tricks with his hat and his pet iron Keith even slicker. He has every audience member laughing whatever the age. It simply would not be a Cheltenham pantomime without him.
Evil Abanazar was incredibly boo-worthy (as well a tiny bit camp) with Olivier Award winner Miles Western giving a brilliant portrayal as the baddie of the show.
A fresh new twist was brought as the genie took new form as deceased music legends such as Michael Jackson, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. Miguel Angel brought energy, strong tributes and well loved songs to the production, breaking up some of the more recent pop hits.
Completing the cast is Widow Twankey creates hilarity from looks alone but shines in a rendition of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ which along with Tweedy and Aladdin peaks laughter as chaos and madness ensues from every angle.
The mixture of professional dancing from the ensemble and the children from Janet Marshall Dance School gave a balance of impressive yet aw-inducing numbers to bring movement into the show.
Tricks and extras like the green screen and flying miniature carpet model which floated above the stalls were wonderfully daft ideas that kept the children’s jaws on the floor.
To me, the Cheltenham Everyman does pantomime the way it is meant to be. It holds on to and savours all the heart warming traditions that we buy the tickets for, as well as bringing fresh tricks, new jokes and up to date references every year. Plus it hits the nail on the head for the core elements of the show, dancing, singing, acting, comedy, audience engagement. Ticks every box and I tip my hat to them.