Aladdin at St Helens Theatre Royal Review

St Helens Theatre Royal

3 December to 8 January 2017


Reviewed by Melanie Allen

I love going to this local theatre, as it’s only 15 minutes drive from my house, it’s easy to park and it’s a very friendly and quaint venue. I’m also a seasoned Christmas pantomime goer to this theatre, and adore the way a panto can make a 2 year old or an 82 year old laugh.

We arrived to queues of local Rainbow and Brownie groups and a large group of school children – after all, that’s what pantos are all about. However, I did notice that there were huge queues at the ladies toilets due to this reason (never the gents though is it?) so this was an immediate negative point before the panto even began. At the interval it was even worse.

The bar staff are always so pleasant and tonight didn’t disappoint, they really do work so hard to serve everyone fairly and quickly and efficiently. We took our seats in the stalls and the excitement of all the children was very apparent. Even more apparent when they were screaming (like at a Justin Bieber concert) ‘He’s behind you’ in the gorilla in the forest scene!

The sets and costumes of the panto were rich and colourful, and the Glitter Dance Team were fabulous and had obviously worked very hard to learn all the dances so well.

Now, I’m not a fan of TOWIE so the fact that Amy Childs and her cousin Harry Derbidge were starring in this show didn’t really attract me to the show and to be honest, I found their panto acting very wooden. Harry’s (PC Noodle) outfit reminded me of a camp, overgrown Evertonian Elf but he did make me laugh in the dance off with Abanazar (played brilliantly by Warren Donnelly). After the first few scenes, their southern banter and calling each other ‘babes’ really grated on me and if they said ‘totes amazeballs’ once, they said it at least 20 times. Amy Childs’ (Slave of the Ring) character was a cross between a beautiful fairy godmother and a narrator and she looked amazing. Her acting was average but I felt a bit disappointed that they were headlining the show and so I expected them to be the stars of the show. However, the real stars for me, were Ben Engelen who plays Wishee Washee, Olivia Sloyan who plays Princess Jasmine and my favourite Simon Foster who plays Widow Twankey. Oliva’s singing and acting was highly professional but the other two funny men made the show what it is. These two were the only ones who adlibbed their lines (essential in panto) and their interaction with the audience was second to none. They were hilarious in the sketch about who lived in what house, and they had my children (aged 9 and 11) crying with laughter.

The main character Aladdin, played by David Heath lacked the pizazz of a prince as the key panto character. Watch out for him on the magical flying carpet scene though! I also wasn’t too impressed with the Genie of the Lamp (Josh Bennett) who sounded like he was reading his lines off a script and had no emotion in his voice.

However, the kids loved it and the singing at the end took me back 35 years to when I was a brownie performing in my first gang show. This performance has all the key ingredients of a good panto – comedy, great costumes and dancers, a well-known story line and lots of ‘he’s behind you’ moments so it was a winner in my household. Maybe next time though, leave the TOWIE out of St Helens?

Rating: 4/5

Tickets cost £11.50 (booking fees may apply).

Aladdin is at the St Helens Theatre Royal until 8 December 2017. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01744 756000.

St. Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St.Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ

4 Star

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