Paul Hamilton salutes C21's genie-us production for the whole family

As I entered the Braid Arts Centre for Peter Quigley’s much-anticipated production of Aladdin I was greeted by a state of the art building, one that Ballymena has been crying out for. The Old Town Hall has been fantastically revamped. I wondered if the production could match the venue.

It didn’t take long to realize that the show was a Christmas cracker. This musical extravaganza opens with Abanazar (Faolan Morgan), providing huge personality and tricks in the old Tommy Cooper style, including a little table with an arm chopper.

Abanazar deftly swoons around the stage, hunting for the boy Aladdin (Barry Sands), who can provide Abanazar with the sought-after Lamp. Sands gives Aladdin a ‘cheeky chappy’ persona, relating brilliantly to cheers from an enthusiastic audience.

Enter Widow Twanky (Claire Connor) and her broader-than-broad Ballymena accent. As soon as she finds out Abanazar is her son Aladdin’s 'healthy, wealthy uncle, she becomes very interested in him. Connor provides slick vocals, her rendition of ‘Money Money Money’ the pick of the bunch.

The elegant Princess Say No (Sara Dylan) is next to arrive from the palace, into Twanky’s Laundrette. It is here that she meets Aladdin, her future Prince.

We are then introduced to the slapstick policeman PC Pong (Mark Claney), who gives a great performance. Doubling up as The Emperor, he gives a hilarious rendition of ‘Boss Of This Place’, with two slave girls on hand.

The Genie, played by Kerri Quinn, is another gem in a strong cast. Quinn’s appearance from behind the pyrotechnics each time the lamp is rubbed is not to be missed. She floats like a butterfly around the stage, with songs like ‘It’s a kind Of Magic’ leaving the audience hooked.

With one and a half hours of magic (including a UV magic carpet scene), C21 has struck gold. For anyone close to Ballymena this show is a must.