Wednesday, 13 December 2017

PANTOMIME REVIEW: Aladdin at the St Alban Arena

St Alban arena attracts over 40,000 to its annual pantomime and this year's offering from them and producers Evolution is Aladdin. The size of the audience allows them to invest in a first class cast and under Will Brenton's direction , Paul Henry's script delivers an outstanding evening of pantomime family entertainment. 

The central trio of Phil Gallagher as Wishy , Bob Golding as Twankey and Ian Kirby as Pongo , all frequent visitors to the venue drive the show along with great energy, brilliant comic timing and a warm charm. They have also perfected the faux slips, mistakes and corpsing that are part of these shows. Golding and Gallagher link up is reminiscent of the stage performances of Morecambe and Wise in the natural ease together, the asides and the looks and easily win over both the kids and the mums and dads. Their routines with Kirby are show stopping highlights and true to the tradition of great pantomime; a clever spurious shops signs routine , a wonderful 12 days of Christmas with five custard pies, the standard of pantomime bench scene, an overacted death scene and a very good Laundry scene. They all engage the audience well in banter and comic looks but beware sitting in the first few rows especially when they bring the video camera on stage!

The comedy is added to with a strong Spirit of the lamp , impressionist Hilary O'Neil who adds the voices of Joe Pasquale, Sybil from Fawlty Towers, Tess Daly and others.

The villain Ababazar is played with a desperate desire to be a Shakespearean actor by the experienced Karl Howman. Despite his evil intent, his natural charm means his is a likeable villain and only small children at the end want to kill him!

They are supported by a good team in the rest of the cast with Lucy Kane as Jasmine, Sam Hallion as Aladdin, George Telfer as the Emperor , Eddie Elliot as the genie ,an ensemble of six dancers and the usual children's team.

The music selection is good with recognisable tunes from Legally Blonde and Wicked plus "Come on Eileen" ,"Always look on the Bright side of life", "Bring me sunshine" and "Boys are back in town". Although the traditional song sheet disappointing had no kids on stage.

The budget extends to a magic carpet ride across the auditorium by Aladdin,
although the means by which this is done is all too obvious and the same system is used for an unusual final bow from Twankey which has the audience on their feet cameras in hand!

This is pantomime as it should be. Traditional story telling, established routines, quick fire topical and corny jokes, strong physical comedy, colourful costumes and sets and a sense of fun and enjoyment. 

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★★
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