Reviewed by Rebecca Wong
This year St. Helens are gifting us with Aladdin as their Christmas panto. This friendly and accessible theatre is a great place to visit with all the family young and old. I brought my two children ages 4 and 7 along as well as my mum.
The classical tale tells us of Aladdin (played by Robin Windsor of Strictly Come Dancing fame) a daydreamer who lives in Old-Peking with his rather hare-brained brother Wishee Washee (played by Scott Gallagher) and his mother Widow Twanky. Widow Twanky is played by Si Foster the brilliantly entertaining resident Dame, who runs the local laundrette. Aladdin is in-love with the Princess Jasmine (played by Olivia Sloyan) of Old-Peking and would do anything to get close to her. As fate would have it, Aladdin has already captured her eye as well. What could possibly come between them? Cue our villain; Abanazer (played by Philip Shaun McGuinness) who promises to help Aladdin out in return for a favour. However, things don’t go to plan and Aladdin ends up trapped and must escape or he will never see Princess Jasmine again. Luckily, Aladdin isn’t alone and with the help of a Genie (played by Kai Jolley), The Slave of the Ring (played by Jenna Sian O’Hara) and of course a magical flying carpet, we follow them on an exciting adventure in their quest to rescue Aladdin, beat the bad guy and win over Princess Jasmine’s heart.
Even if you know the Aladdin story you don’t know the St. Helens panto Aladdin story, which features lots of new and different twists. This is the panto is bursting with entertainment; it is packed full of laughs, current references, great music, fantastic dancing (maybe something to do with the Strictly star…) brilliant stage design, glamorous costumes and even a 3D carpet ride! There were also new characters that haven’t been seen before; PC Noodle played by Timothy Lucas, a hilarious scouse policeman who was intent on protecting the Princess, brought non-stop humour to the story and was my absolute favourite character. Look out for the dance-off between him and Abanazer, it was comedy gold! Wishee Washee was also a great hit, his quick-witted humour and warmness to the audience and especially children at the end, was just lovely to watch. Every character brought a new and fresh dynamic to the story.
As a family panto, this is THE ONE to see this Christmas, like Santa, it’s the panto that keeps on giving. Aladdin the panto is absolutely brilliant, fresh, funny and entertaining. My children were engrossed throughout, and my mum and I laughed non-stop from start to finish. Everyone will leave with a smile on their face. Both my kids loved it so much that they keep asking to go back, there’s just as much in it for the grown-ups as there is for the kids. I can’t recommend it enough, if you just see one show this Christmas, make this it! For a feel-good family experience, it’s a 5/5 from me.
Tickets cost from £15 (booking fees may apply).
Aladdin is at the St Helens Theatre Royal from 7 December 2019 to 12 January 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com or call the box office on 01744 756000.
St. Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St.Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ