10-31 December 2016
Reviewed by Louise Turton
Who doesn’t love a good pantomime? I know I do so was most excited to visit Venue Cymru in Llandudno, Wales with my family on Saturday 10th December.
As always, a warm welcome greeted us upon arrival. I always find this theatre to have a cosy, comfortable atmosphere with lovely friendly staff. Today in the foyer was an area where the children could be made up to be little elves complete with elf hats for a fee, a lovely touch that my twelve and five year old were thrilled with. As this evening was a special treat for my family I decided to buy some goodies from the concession stand and was pleasantly surprised at the reasonable cost.
This year’s pantomime is an old favourite, the traditional Aladdin starring former Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas as The Genie Of The Lamp. Aladdin tells the tale of the hero – the namesake of the tale, who wishing to become rich to win over his love Princess Jasmine is persuaded by the villain of the panto Abanazar, to enter a cave to get an old lamp. Of course, as Abanazar is the villain in the story he plans to trick Aladdin, and Aladdin ends up getting trapped within the cave alongside his brother Wishee Washee, where inadvertently they end up summoning the Genie who grants him three wishes. Even though Aladdin does because rich beyond his wildest dreams, Abanazar is always on hand to ruin Aladdin’s plans, but of course good wins over evil and a happy ending is guaranteed.
Alongside a wonderful Gareth Thomas, who looks very much at home doing panto (Gareth gyrating to his opening number is something I thought I would never see!), Aladdin also stars John Evans playing Wishee Washee who is returning to Venue Cymru for his consecutive tenth year, and the impression I get is that many of the audience also return year after year primarily for his hilarious turn. He was fantastic and had me laughing throughout with his constant stream of jokes. Andy Jones is also brilliant as Widow Twankey and although these three stand out for their performances the rest of the cast are also great.
As a family, we all thoroughly enjoyed our evening. Throughout, the pantomime featured many familiar songs including Justin Timberlake and One Direction that had everyone singing and dancing along, and of course audience participation is greatly encouraged. As we are of different ages we all had a different take on what we liked the best. The five year old found the joke about something being half hearted with a play on words probably the funniest thing he’s ever heard, whereas my twelve year old loved Abanazar throughout, plus the magic carpet flying scene which was fantastic. The highlight for me was the brilliant Twelve Days Of Christmas song – very funny. The most important thing that comes through in this pantomime though is how much enjoyment and fun the cast themselves seem to be having, this is truly infectious and you cannot help to have fun alongside them.
Probably the greatest compliment I can give this fantastic production is that we are already planning Peter Pan for 2017.
Tickets cost from £17 to £24 (booking fees may apply).
Aladdin is at Venue Cymru in Llandudno until 31 December 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the bo office on 01492 872000.
Venue Cymru, The Promenade, Llandudno, Conwy, LL30 1BB | 01492 872000