Ah, pantomimes. The perfect antidote to the election and winter. An opportunity to switch off for two and a bit hours and immerse ourselves in a fairytale. I met a friend and her child at the Tyne Theatre, stocked up on wine and all the junk food and prepared to switch my brain off for two hours (difficult when you need to do a review).
The official poster
Aladdin is one of my favourite pantos (I was obsessed with the Disney film) and I thoroughly enjoyed the updated live action film this year and Will Smith’s genie. It would be pointless comparing his CGI’d effort genie with Marcus Collins’ attempt so I won’t, but I was liking the 70s music-loving, funky vibe that Marcus brought to the role. He appears in a smoke-filled cloud in Old Peking to open the show, and shows off his singing prowess with hits like Kung-Fu Fighting, a mash up of Relight My Fire and Disco Inferno and Gimme Some Lovin’ (performed with the rest of the cast).
Also starring is Home and Away’s Nick Westaway, who seems like the perfect choice for Aladdin (or Prince Charming, or any other male main part) with his boyish good looks and general all-round nice guy image. He also shows he can sing as well as act in group numbers likes Can’t Stop The Feeling, the ever-popular Shotgun (even my two year old nephew loves it), a predictable yet amusing version of the Home and Away theme tune with his love Princess Jasmine (local lass Hannah Wales) and his magic carpet ride solo of Take That’s Rule The World.
The cast in all its glory!
I marvelled at how gravelly and well, downright evil Hollyoaks baddie David Easter’s voice could get as Abanazar but I guess that was a requirement for the part. An obvious choice for a baddie, his voice lent itself well to his musical number ‘Trouble’ by Elvis Presley (“because I’m evil, my middle name is misery”) and I enjoyed it when the facade dropped a couple of times when one of his cast mates made a gaff.
The gaffs are one of my favourite aspects of the Tyne Theatre panto, and often include the brilliant Charlie Richmond (this year playing Wishee Washee) and yet again he did not disappoint in bringing the comedy and heart to the show. This is his 11th year doing the panto here and it he makes it look effortless, taking the mick out of his brother Aladdin and their larger-than-life mother Widow Twankey (Chris Casserly). The jokes just keep on coming and obviously included Brexit and Prince Andrew (not too keen on jokes making mental health or suicide though). Expect to get wet courtesy of water pistols or get hit with some Haribo if you’re sitting near the front (but no one is safe when they use tennis rackets)!
Wishee (Charlie Richmond) and Aladdin (Nick Westaway)
Hannah Wales who plays Princess Jasmine has a great voice and did a really good job as Princess Jasmine (I enjoyed her version of Jai Ho and the circus skills of dancers Emma Dearden and Rachael Alexander). I always think that Lewis Denny (PC Pong) should be given a bigger part, and Steve Halliday did the job as Jasmine’s dad, the Emperor. Chris Casserly got in some great visual gags with Window Twakey’s outlandish outfits and is the quintessential Pantomime Dame. Also a special mention for the great work of the dancers (the little ones are always so sweet), the effective three-man orchestra and the creative team (the set was really strong this year). And the great charity work that’s done every year by the team.
The star-studded cast doesn’t disappoint, and will take you to a whole new world! (Sorry couldn’t resist).
Aladdin as at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House until Sunday 5th January 2020. Buy tickets here
*I received tickets in exchange for a review, thank you to Jam Marketing for arranging this*
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