This was my first panto show and I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into. I had been hearing about them weeks before they began though, so I knew I had to make a trip to see one this season. With the buzz that the Shaw Theatre’s Aladdin has been getting, I thought this would be the perfect introduction into the London panto scene.
With a theatre filled with young, adorable, and highly energetic children, this was the perfect production for the group. It is indeed the story of Aladdin, but with a bit more sparkle, magic, and fun. A few special effects including mini fireworks and a flying carpet (of course) kept the kids mesmerized throughout the show as well. And there were even renditions of Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, and Frozen’s Let It Go – you know there was a full sing-a-long with that one.
The show-stealing scene, however, was their version of “12 Days of Christmas.” Wishee Washee, Widow Twanky, and PC Pongo led the crowd in an absolutely hilarious performance that included toilet rolls that were thrown throughout the crowd, pots and pans tossed in the air, water guns soaking everyone and even a bra that was made to fit three. I know what you are thinking, and I’ll let you know that yes – it WAS just as crazy as it sounds!
The actors were a fantastic group to watch, and it was obvious how much fun they were having on stage with the audience interaction. Ben Richards headed the show as the evil Abanazar, and responded hilariously well to the overbearing “boos” from the audience every time he made it onto the stage. Chris Dennis (also known as his multi-award wining drag alter ego, “La Voix”) and Paul Lawrence Thomas also led the show as Widow Twanky and Wishee Washee with their witty remarks and cheesy jokes. There were even a bit of ‘adult humour’ thrown in there to keep us older folk entertained.
While there were a few line flubs, that can be expected with a young crowd of nonstop screams. The cast had fun with it as well, keeping the show moving along with their comedic banter and improvisation. To sum my experience up, I walked in feeling like I was too old to be there on my own and left with a smile on my face. This production may be advertised towards the younger groups, but it truly is a show that can be entertained by all walks of life.
Reviewed by Caity O’Shaughnessy
Aladdin is playing at the Shaw Theatre until 3 January 2015.