The Mercury Theatre in Colchester’s pantomime is a yearly Christmas treat – this time it’s Aladdin. There is an orchestra pit and I enjoyed the live music that played throughout the show. As soon as I saw the red and gold colours of the set and the green glow in the dark eyes of the dragons on the side of the stage, I knew that I was in for a treat.
The story of Aladdin is a classic children’s tale known by more people thanks to Disney than to the original Arabian Nights stories! The panto takes us to Old Peking where a boy called Aladdin (Glenn Adamson) – who helps his mother, Widow Twanky (Antony Stuart-Hicks) and brother, Wishee Washee (Dale Superville) in the laundry business – dreams of becoming a prince so he can marry the emperor’s daughter, Jasmine (Sarah Moss). With promise of riches beyond Aladdin’s wildest dreams, the sly magician Abanazar (Ignatius Anthony) tricks the boy into retrieving a magic lamp that is hidden in a far-off cave. Aladdin finds himself trapped there when the cave closes with only the dusty lamp for company. But it is when he rubs the lamp that his adventures really begin!
I enjoyed the mix of adult and childish humour so that everybody could react to the pantomime in different ways. The music was a good mix too between 70s classics like Jean Genie and up to date pop songs such as Up Town Funk. I was particularly impressed by the magic carpet scene when Aladdin appeared to float above the audience in a starry sky. There was a lot of improvisation, especially from Widow Twanky who held it all together and was very good at picking out and embarrassing audience members – I was glad to be sitting in the middle!
One of my favourite scenes was their interpretation of the must-have ‘He’s behind you!’ Bizarrely this took place in the Himalayas and it was Yeti that was behind the actors. The audience were shouting so loudly you must have been able to hear it outside! Another very clever scene was the slow motion passing of the lamp between the cast to keep it away from evil Abanazar – of course he ended up with it again… Throughout the pantomime there were references to the local area – the Peking Palace is a local takeaway in Colchester! Aladdin was banished to the worst place in the world – no, not Ipswich but the Himalayas!
The Dame, Widow Twanky had amazing costumes and the slapstick laundry scene was incredible but my favourite has to be the Genie who made his first appearance dancing in glitter boots, a purple beard and silvery make up!
All in all Aladdin is a must see adventure that will make you cry with laughter, boo, hiss and cheer all the way through!