Aladdin has finally arrived at Hull New Theatre and if you are looking for a traditional panto this season, I can guarantee that you will have a great time watching this one.
I was never much of a panto fan when I was young but at Hull New Theatre the other night I found myself cheering and booing like a veteran.
As you walk into the auditorium you are immediately faced with a beautiful and sparkly Aladdin curtain. This made me feel festive and I could sense an excited buzz around the audience of children of all ages, parents and grandparents.
The story of Arabian Nights unfolded. Aladdin is in love with Princess Jasmine and despite being poor wants to marry her. Alas poor Princess Jasmine must marry a prince according to her father Emperor Ming played by Keith Higham.
Every time Ming was mentioned I kept picturing Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon but luckily this Emperor Ming was not merciless. By chance Ming falls in love with Aladdin’s mother, Widow Twankey. Darren Machin (who was magnificently over the top) clearly loved this role. Twankey’s outrageous costumes became more gaudy as the evening passed but were perfect pantomime dame.
In his pursuit to control the universe, Abanazer seeks the magic lamp hidden in a cave in China. Robin Asquith played the baddie brilliantly; The audience hissed and booed every time he came on.
Abanazer learns Aladdin is the only one who can enter the cave and retrieve the lamp, so promises Aladdin great wealth if he will do this task. That means he could marry the Princess!
I was most looking forward to seeing Jake Canuso (of Benidorm fame) and he didn’t disappoint. Jake was the Spirit of the Dance and throughout the evening sashayed his way around the stage and cracked lots of Benidorm jokes.
As a Blue fan in her teens, my daughter was excited to see Simon Webbe as Aladdin. I can’t say I listened to much Blue when they were around, but I did recognise some songs. He played our hero Aladdin with sensitivity and has a lovely voice.
However, the character which stole the show for me was Aladdin’s brother, Wishee Washee (Neil Hurst). His comedy timing was sharp, he interacted with the audience brilliantly, and was a strong character helping to weave the story. Wishee Washee was excellent with the four local children brought on stage to help sing a ditty which kept coming out as farts. This had the audience in stitches! His tongue twister scene with Aladdin and Widow Twankee has to be seen. How he keeps a straight face and doesn’t stutter is awe inspiring.
This is a spectacular panto. It has jokes for all ages, with innuendos going completely over the kid’s heads. Bright costumes, cheery songs. A hero, a Villain, a love story, fantastic scenery and a lovely ensemble of junior dancers from LWHS school in Hedon. You will leave the show smiling, singing ’fart’ songs and feeling lifted.
I had taken two young friends with me and they had a blast. They especially loved when Aladdin’s magic carpet came out above the front rows of the stalls. It was truly magical.
Don’t miss this panto. It’s converted me and I think I shall be a regular attendee in the coming years.