Panto season with prawn balls & laugh a minute blunders at Theatre Royal’s Aladdin
Christmas would not be the same without panto season so I was delighted to be invited to this year’s thigh slapping performance of Aladdin at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham. With an all-star cast including panto veteran Christopher Biggins, my expectations were high – oh yes they were!
First of all as we made our way to our seats I was reminded just how stunning the ornate features of the theatre are. There can’t be another venue like this for miles around so it’s worth a visit to see just how beautiful this old Victorian theatre really is.
The opening scenes saw a nod to the theatre’s 150th anniversary with a show stopping giant cake brought on stage by Biggins himself, aka Widow Twankey. He dazzled in a cherry topped outfit looking ever so the consummate panto dame, and the show began.
The cherries, which cheekily covered his ‘bits’ were just the start of some of the best dame outfits I’ve ever seen. I think I counted 11 or 12 changes in total, some of which were stage sets in themselves. From a walking washing machine and laundry basket to a China vase and lantern, and even a football pitch. The most flamboyant for me though was the Chinese takeaway ensemble complete with foil tub!
There was nothing blue about Aladdin, who in the form of former pop star Simon Webbe was definitely a hit with the females, and I could hear the sighs as he glided over the audience on his magic carpet ride to Egypt – one of the highlights of the entire show. As a veteran boy band member we know he can dance, but he definitely brought his Strictly moves to the stage when he took Princess Jasmine to the floor during Uptown Funk. He can sing too and the casts’ rendition of Blue’s One Love went down a treat – even granddad was finding it hard to sit still! He seemed right at home on stage and despite being a northern lad there were definitely some ‘Nottinghamisms’ coming through during his performance.
The most entertainment for me came from Ben Nickless who was on form from start to finish as Aladdin’s sibling, Wishee Washee. He brought belly laughs a-plenty with each and every line and had the audiences young and old in stitches. He even managed to pull uncanny but hilarious impressions out of the bag along the way.
Without an ‘It’s behind you’ or ‘Oh no it isn’t’ in earshot this is classic pantomime at its best and the casts’ blunders and silly antics only added to the amusement. The lighting, stage effects and stunning scenery didn’t go amiss either which all dazzled just as much as the performers.
Well done Theatre Royal and crew, you pulled another show stopper out of the cracker.
Limited tickets are still available so grab them while you can. More information can be found here