Is Richmond Theatre's Aladdin the panto of all pantos to see this year? Muddy intern Alice Ridsdale says: Oh YES, it is!
If I had three wishes granted by a genie, I would hands down spend one of them going back in time to see Aladdin at Richmond Theatre again. What fun it was!
The last time I’d been to a panto was probably around aged nine, and how it’s changed. Perhaps this is because I actually understand the adult jokes this time, or perhaps pantos really have updated. This panto felt fresh and new whilst keeping all the old traditions.
I took my Dad, partly because he probably wouldn’t forgive me if I went without him (he’s a massive panto fan), and partially because I knew he’d be shouting ‘its behind you!’ louder than anyone else I know, and with regret to my ears he did not disappoint. I must admit the wine and sweets may have helped, but we left the theatre as giddy as any six-year-old. Six or 60 – is Aladdin the panto of all pantos to see this year? Oh YES, it is!
Written to perfection by Jonathan Kiley and Alan McHugh, the story follows Aladdin as he chases his dream to marry Princess Jasmine as he goes on an adventure. Flying on his magic carpet from old Peking to the deserts of Egypt he is acquainted with his mother Widow Twanky and brother Wishee Washee.
The main stars of the show are an incredible team. Pantomime pro Christopher Biggins who played Widow Twanky, was effortlessly funny and had the whole audience roaring with laughter. His outfits were equally vibrant, ranging from giant red foam cherry nipple tassels to a washing machine on his head. You couldn’t help but adore the marvelous Issy Van Ranwyck, who played an enchanting Scheherazade. She came with bundles of energy and showed off her wonderful singing talents. Rikki Jay played cheeky chappy Wishee Washee, and had the audience in hysterics with razor-sharp timing. Finally, Emperor Ming was played by Steve Delaney, playing the role as his alter ego, Count Arthur Strong. Confused? So were the audience at first. But his performance as the fall-guy in the superbly orchestrated slap-stick quartet scene, was the best of the best and left me laughing off my chair.
Denquar Chupak played an endearing and sweet Princess Jasmine, with a beautiful voice and elegant movement. Al Jenks as Aladdin certainly looked the part, but his voice and stage presence, perhaps inevitably, was somewhat overshadowed by the talent around him.
The show came with plenty of wow moments. One particular crowd pleaser was Aladdin’s magic carpet. This was no Ikea purchase. Perhaps a little cynical I tried to work out how Aladdin’s carpet danced over the audience. It really was a magic carpet! You should have seen the kids faces in the boxes where Aladdin was only an arm away. Mesmerized!
Modern songs from One Direction and Clean Bandit made it irresistible not to sing-a-long. However, I did spend allot of my time envying the slick dancers ridiculously defined six packs, whilst I dug into my bag of pick a mix.
My overall Muddy verdict is: This panto is what Christmas is all about – laughter and fun for everyone! It may be a cold wintery December, but I’ll be extremely surprised if you don’t leave Aladdin without a spring in your step. We certainly did!