Aladdin the Pantomime (Theatre Royal Plymouth) Review
Updated: Apr 28, 2022
Pantomime is big business for the theatre industry, and a special part of the festive season for many families. And after the last couple of years of enforced closures, regulations and last-minute cancellations, panto came back this season with all guns blazing, with bigger sets, bigger costumes and all the theatrical magic that we have all been missing so much. Up and down the country, classic fairy tales have been given the pantomime twist with dames, dancing, and dastardly villains that you just love to hate, and for the Theatre Royal Plymouth it was the turn of Aladdin to fly onto the stage and delight audiences.
Supported by the National Lottery, Aladdin opened at the Plymouth venue on Dec 17th, running until January 15th. As is the way with pantomimes all over the country, it is a chance to see much loved big names on the stage and this year comedian Joe Pasquale comes to sea city to take on the role of Wishy Washy, leaving the audience in fits of laughter throughout. From darting around the stage on a toilet on wheels, dancing with a gang of pandas, flying over the audience on a magic carpet or getting flustered by a tongue twister that featured a fair few cheeky slip ups with Widow Twankey (David Robbins) and Abanazer (Pete Gallagher), he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.
This production saw Pasquale reunited with his ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’ co-star Sarah Earnshaw who played the role of Scherezade, the spirit of the ring. A classic pantomime goodie, graceful and magical has she helps Aladdin along on his adventure. David Robbins forms a formidable comedy double act with Pasquale as he takes on the role of Widow Twankey, showing off a multitude of different costumes and having the audience in fits of laughter during the hilarious ‘what would I be away from panto’ song.
Alistair So is a delight as Aladdin, bubbling with energy and charm, every part the perfect prince as he captured the imagination of the audience. His interactions with Natalie Chua as Jasmine were sweet and believable and in this retelling of the classic fairy tale it was wonderful to see a brave independent take on princess Jasmine. Maybe we have the live action remake to thank, with its Jasmine determined to marry for love and lead the kingdom, but either way, Chua’s Jasmine was powerful and unafraid when faced with the villainous Abanazer played with passion and tip top comedic timing by Pete Gallagher.
Danielle Steers (Six, Bat out of Hell) makes the most of her role of Jasmine’s overbearing older sister the Supreme Leader of Jannerstown but is perhaps a little underused. It would have been nice for her to get more of an opportunity to show off her powerhouse vocals. The ensemble has plenty of energy as they whizz through multiple big song and dance numbers and grabble with big costumes and puppets throughout. Specialists act The Acromaniacs thrilled the audience with their gymnastic display, raising both cheers and laughter.
As I always find with pantomime, there are always those little moments when things go wrong, but I always find myself wondering if it’s all set up or not. Were those cheeky slip ups in the tongue twister scene planned? Was the member of the ensemble supposed to have a costume malfunction? We will never know but it’s always fun to see the cast trying to hold it together and not burst out laughing when slip ups, planned or not, happen.
If you are looking for a couple of hours of pure entertainment, suitable for the whole family, then Aladdin might just be the perfect ticket. It’s over the top, silly and full of songs that you will be humming all the way home.
Images found via Google, not my own