REVIEW: ALADDIN (New Wimbledon Theatre) ★★★
Qdos Entertainment offers those in the Wimbledon surrounding area ‘Aladdin‘ this Christmas. Directed by Kerry Michael, (a pantomime pro) who has pulled off a spectacular job creating scenes which are enjoyable for the kids as well as often for the adults.
Paul Merton plays the dame this year, and also makes his Pantomime debut! Not that you’d know. Merton is a natural to the stage, making the role his own. Although the script did have some very clever parts to it, the real humour seemed to come from Merton’s quick, dry wit which for those who listen to him on the radio will know all too well. Played along side comedian and magician Pete Firman as Wishee Washee, the two make a fantastic duo. Firman sticking closely to the panto script, and Merton taking every opportunity to throw in one liners and put Firman off.
In the role of Aladdin, was ex-boyband member of Blue, Lee Ryan. Sadly, although perhaps made worse by sharing the stage with Merton and Firman’s strong comedy skills, Ryan failed to develop any character, stage presence or hit many of the notes correctly. What was made more frustrating was that Lauren Chia, who played Princess Jasmine, who isn’t (yet) a house hold name, had a minor part compared to other male leads. Chia, however, played the role well with the scenes she was given, even giving us a fight scene! Her voice as Jasmine was perfect, and luckily (at points) drowned out Ryan. Linda John-Pierre, as the Empress however was a powerhouse of vocals, opening the show with a bang! Our villain: Abanazar was also sadly underused. West End regular Adam Pearce (Abanazar) displayed a life-like baddie, with strong vocals and really got the audience going.
The show felt a little long, and I could tell some of the kids were starting to get a little restless at points. I’ve not been to a show before that uses 3D technology and this was exciting for even me and a clever way to portray the Genie. Sadly some of the 3D scenes did seem a little dated and off script, but enjoyable none the less.
Special mention goes to Cassandra McCowan as Scheherazade who’s vocals were to die for. When we first met the character, I wasn’t sure how necessary she was going to be, but boy was I wrong. McCowan features throughout, helping to push the plot but also to show off her incredible voice.
Reviewed by Benjamin Martin
Photo: Craig Sugden
FOLLOW WEST END WILMA