Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield – until 3 January 2017
My second visit to watch the story of Aladdin told through pantomime was a spectacular experience, glistening with a stunning set, peppered with quick-fired wit and a cornucopia of musical numbers from a solid cast.
I particularly took to the Principle Boy and Principle Girl, which is a rarity for me when watching this genre of production, I usually find that the characters are so cheesy and over the top that I lose interest. Not so with this version, with a ballsy performance as Princess Jasmine from Liz McCLarnon, she had the right balance of gentility and warrior! Plus what a singing voice, of course. With a fantastic track record from her Atomic Kitten days, I expected good things, but I was blown away by her enthusiasm for the role and she is a real asset to the cast. Equally, Lee Brennan from 911 was an energetic and heroic
Aladdin, his vocal ability remains on top form and he works hard to bring a much-loved character to life, very successfully too. Greg Ashton as Widow Twankey is the best Dame I have ever had the joy of watching, before. I was familiar with his work in drag, but he took this performance to another level, with multiple quick changes, an excellent rapport with the audience and comic timing to rival any comedian.
James Dangerfield was a well matched ‘side-kick’ as Wishee Washee and I admired his easy humour, ready smile and the audience were instantly on his side, as should be the case with a comedy role. Add to the equation the hilarious Keith and Ben Simmons as the Chinese Policeman, demonstrating excellent physical comedy as well as the right pace for the audience to catch on whilst keeping the ebb of the show flowing. The pair of them were a real force to be reckoned with and should be commended on a brilliant partnership.
Choreography was light, lively and the ensemble worked well together, some very talented dancers among the company. I loved the mixture of classic and modern songs and I thoroughly enjoyed the mash-up of Atomic Kitten and 911, all good party music choices to get the audience in the festive spirit. You can’t go wrong by choosing Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself by Jess Glynne, either – that’s my favourite!
The reason that this pantomime has been such a highlight for me is that it didn’t rely on special effects. I think I counted one use of obvious ‘trickery’ ,otherwise it was down to the cast to tell the story, create a happy, electric atmosphere and make the audience feel involved. All of this was achieved and more, I can’t recommend this show highly enough, I would go back and see it again if I could!