ON TUESDAY night Sunderland Empire delivered a magical panto performance of Aladdin to a packed theatre.

It was a truly Genie-us performance by an all-star cast featuring Gary Lucy (Hollyoaks, The Bill and Celebs Go Dating) as the dastardly evil Abanazar, who got the crowd hissing and booing in all the right places as he set out on his quest for world domination.

All the elements required to deliver a truly memorable panto were here in Sunderland – glitzy costumes, breathtaking scenery and a bucketful of local references.

Miss Rory, the North-East queen of comedy, appeared as Widow Twankey, offering just the right amount of innuendos to make you chuckle under your breath at the adult parts and belly laugh along with the kids at the funny parts.

The Northern Echo:

Appearing as Widow Twankey’s likeable little rogue son Wishee Washee was Geordie legend Tom Whalley. Although his pairing with Widow Twankey gave us a good element of slapstick comedy, Wishee Washee was the star of the show for me. Repeatedly dropping one liners, he had a genuine energy in his performance and being a local lad meant he was so relatable to the audience. He certainly kept the crowd going all night by yelling “Why aye Washee” every time he was on stage... the younger member of the audience thought it was fantastic.

This year’s dance ensemble came from The Kathleen Davis Stage School and the Worx Dance Theatre Arts. Their versions of foot tapping songs including the Robbie Williams hit Let me entertain you certainly kept everyone in the panto spirit.

The show had all the villainous charm you would expect from a well directed adaption of this classic and right from the start the silliness was there in abundance as we followed the story of Aladdin and his quest to marry princess Jasmine. The gags just kept on coming, with enough adult humour to keep even the adults entertained right till the end.

This year’s panto is as polished as the genie's lamp. What Sunderland Empire do so well with panto is throw the theatre rulebook out of the window and really deliver exactly what the audience wants. I admit it worked for me, making this year one of my favourites and a must see for everyone.

Sunderland Empire has already announced that next year's panto will be Beauty & The Beast.

Aladdin runs until January 2 at Sunderland Empire. Tickets can be bought from the ticket office on 0844 8717615 or online www.ATGtickets.com/sunderland