“Everything you could wish for in a panto” is what the blurb says and, no doubt about it, that’s absolutely right! Aladdin is a wonderful blend of the traditional and the ultra-modern. It uses the old fairy tale, found in the One Thousand and One Nights and set in China and Egypt, with the essential ingredients of the magic lamp, the genie, the wicked sorcerer, the nubile princess, and so forth. It has stock pantomime characters, in particular the Dame, although in this instance the Principal Boy actually is a boy. On the other hand, there are state-of-the-art special effects. By donning the 3-D glasses handed out on arrival, one is transported with Aladdin on a Magic Carpet ride, and bombarded with all manner of monsters as one attempts to penetrate the cave where the treasures lie hid.
New lamps for old? You can have both here. The costumes are lavish, the ever-changing sets inventive, the singing and dancing are excellent, and the small band fairly drive the action along with their superb musicianship. But the stars of the show are undoubtedly that veteran comedian Paul Merton, losing his pantomimic virginity as Widow Twankey, and the irrepressible comic magician, Pete Firman, as Wishee Washee. Between them they had us just about rolling in the aisles with mirth.
The audience loved it. The New Wimbledon Theatre was nearly full up when I went to the show, which is pretty good for a Wednesday evening. And no wonder. There is plenty of spectacular action and knock-about buffoonery for the kids to enjoy, and plenty of verbal virtuosity and quickfire one-liners for the adults to appreciate. The New Wimbledon Theatre has done it again! When are they going to put on a dud show for me to complain about? In the meantime, go and see this one. It’s a (excuse the seasonal pun) cracker!
- By Alan McHugh
- Directed by Kerry Michael
- Choreographed by Mitch Sebastian
- Cast includes: Paul Merton, Lee Ryan and Pete Firman
- New Wimbledon Theatre, London
- Until 6th January 2019
- Times: 13:00 or 14:00 & 17:00 or 19:00