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Bryan Beattie

ALADDIN. Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, until January 4

Eden Court has a hit on its hands worthy of the newly-refurbished auditorium. This is a wonderful night out. From the puzzle-filled programme to the cast partying at the finale, it bustles with energy, humour and spectacle.

There's the right balance between groan-inducing one-liners ("Ah went tae an underwater disco an' pulled a mussel"), local colour ("Get thee to Drumnadrochit via Clachnacluddin") and name-checks from Scottie McClure to Demi Moore.

John Barr's Aladdin sparks with vitality and his terrific voice makes the most of Irvin Duguid's excellent arrangements and tight house band. The company comes thick and fast from policemen, Mee and Yuu, to the main double bill. James Murray is Twankey from the best tradition of the Glasgow school of dames, while abseiling Derek Munn steals young hearts (and probably the show) as a high-pitched, ad-libbing Wishee.

Surprise of the night was the star billing - Michael Wilson, aka Cobra from Gladiators. Sure, he's a muscle-bound, gorgeous hunk, but he's also a funky, funny Genie who plays things with tongue firmly in cheek and has the audience screaming with Beatle-like adulation.

Cobra's genial, gentle and genuinely amusing performance epitomises the spirit of this warm, hugely entertaining family show. If you live in the Highlands, see it. If you don't, get a railcard.

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