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Sunday, 18 December 2016

Review: Aladdin at Whickham Pantodrome



GATESHEAD GETS 3 WISHES GRANTED

Aladdin
Whickham Pantodrome
Thursday 15th – Friday 23rd December 2016

The biggest panto in Gateshead? Indeed. Tucked away in a sport hall at Whickham School is the Nice Swan Pantodome. Tiered seating offering a good view and the performance takes place on an impressive set up, given it isn’t a purpose built theatre.

Proceedings begin with the evil Abanazer laying down his evil plans for world domination. Stephen Sullivan is well suited to the role as he swoops on and off the stage with a flourish, complete with a backwards glance at the audience. He calls up the Slave Of The Ring (Charlotte Casey) who has suitable attitude to the power mad tyrant.

The lyrics to the first song and a number of the others have been adapted to fit in the story. The outfits of the dancers on this first number raised an eyebrow but the adult dancers had more conventional outfits on for the remainder of the show.

Sean Gray is next up, as Aladdin’s brother, inviting the audience to join Wishee Washees’ gang before Aladdin (Jacob Anderton) announces his love, and marriage plans, for the Princess Jasmine (Kiera Falcus). The arrival of Daniel Mawston as the Widow Twankey in the first of many amazing outfits marks the start of the stream of jokes.

The principal cast is complete with 13 year old Jack Johnston as the Emperor of China, who does a remarkable job given his relative youth, and Bryce Laverick as the Genie. As already mentioned, the principle cast is supported by an ensemble that can dance and a group of enthusiastic children too. Stephanie Smith has done a canny job with the choreography.

As with any good panto we have the local references in Tom Whalley’s script. The local nature of the show doesn’t end there as Metro Radio’s Alan Robson’s voice booms out, as the oracle giving advice at the start, in a strong Geordie accent.

There has been some updating to the story as Widow Twankey has shut down her laundry and has opened a take-away. The result is a funny, messy scene and the set designer has done a great job too.  Credit too must go to the behind the scenes staff as the numerous scene changes are managed seamlessly.

The whole cast do a great job at entertaining the audience. Sean Gray works hard with the younger panto fans whilst Stephen Sullivan seems to revel in the booing that his evil character creates. Charlotte Casey is a slave with attitude that does her credit.  The panto dame, Daniel Mawston, seemed very comfortable in the role and is a fabulous entertainer.

Nice Swan have a great, affordable panto here that doesn’t feel cheap. There is a flying carpet and some appealing lighting too. Kate Ross’ direction keeps the pace flowing nicely with lots of entertaining interactions with the audience. My son didn’t expect to be taking a soft pink toilet roll home. The children get excited at the arrival of the mummy and the sweets that are thrown in to the audience. The parents have plenty to laugh at too. A great panto indeed.

Review by Stephen Oliver(Twitter: @panic_c_button)

Tickets: Tickets for Aladdin are on sale now and are available online at www.niceswan.com or by calling the booking line 0333 666 3366 or for local/group/school sales call 07741 477660. From £10.50. Group and school discounts available. 



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