THE stars came out for the press night of Aladdin and watched as the grand Corporation Street venue witnessed panto soar to new heights.

St Helens Theatre Royal has won national acclaim for its joyous, glittering shows which pull in visitors from far afield.

But rarely have Chantelle Nolan’s Regal Entertainments team delivered a spectacle that has raised the bar so high.

Little wonder that theatre bosses have billed it as their biggest Christmas panto yet.

The cocktail of spectacular costumes, a quick-witted script, big musical numbers and melodies, brilliant performances and special effects ensure this is a fun-packed ride that will have all the family – from the little ones to the grandparents – giggling, smiling and clapping along.

The cast are magnificent, with Emmerdale’s Liam Fox revelling in the role as baddie Abanazar.

Radio City’s Leanne Campbell, meanwhile, is another big name and she appears digitally as the genie of the mirror in a performance that adds to the spellbinding quality of the show.

Jess Smith, as Princess Jasmine, and Alex Aram, as Aladdin, are a delight.

St Helens Star: Tim Lucas as the genie (right) and Alex Aram, as AladdinTim Lucas as the genie (right) and Alex Aram, as Aladdin (Image: David Munn)

And Theatre Royal favourites Lewis Devine (Wishee Washee) and Richard Aucott (Widow Twanky) once again captivate with their gags and boundless energy.

They have a willing accomplice too in the shape of Tim Lucas as the wise-cracking, effervescent Genie.

Lucas often tours the country with Blood Brothers the Musical, and his stage presence and ability to belt out the big numbers elevate this belter of a panto.

Without giving too much away, get yourself strapped in too for the 3D interactive carpet ride (the kids will love this) in the second half, which adds to the adventure.

St Helens Star:

St Helens Star:

Overall this is a joyous delight, which is as daft as a brush but sublime at the same time. It is another brilliant experience for the family over Christmas... which must put Chantelle and the crew in the running for stage honours again this year.

If you see the crowds steaming in from Birchley Street and the nearby bus station over the festive period, you can be pretty sure where they’ll be heading.

Andrew Kilmurray