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REVIEW: Aladdin at Newcastle People’s Theatre
Newcastle People’s Theatre
Until Sunday 17th December 2017
tale from rags to riches arrives in Newcastle at the show which usually tries
to feature more dancers than any other show. How did it compare to the others
in a fairly crowded market this year?
This is our
10th Christmas Show of the season and we’ve still got plenty to go
to as 2017 seems to be the year of the panto in the North East. The People’s
Theatre have a reputation for delivering a traditional pantomime with enough audience
participation to keep the little ones happy. Aladdin is no different to recent
years. The Philip Meeks’ script has the usual plethora of old jokes, dodgy jokes
and a few double entendres that kept Frankie Howerd on TV for years.
Fortunately, the bulk of the puns are delivered by the experienced Steve
Robertson who wears many flamboyant dresses as the dame Widow Twankey. His no nonsense
approach worked well.
panto shows how they are developing the younger talent in the region. Laurence
Hussain as Aladdin, Joe Robson as his brother Wishee Washee and joined by
Madeline Carter as the Princess Cheryl. Their
youthful energy added an extra dynamic to the show. Madeline also showed that
she has a great singing voice too that could be clearly heard at the back of
We last saw Leon
Gill in a memorable performance of Sister
Act and his positive charm came across again as the Genie. He is an
entertaining singer and it was appropriate that he led the end of Act 1 spectacle
which showed off the range of the dancers in the show. Even the PTAG tap
dancers came on at one point – it could have been a scene from something like
Top Hat as the stairs lit up.
me on to the dancers. I had my knuckles rapped last year – and fair play… If
you watch this show every year it is easy to take for granted the work that
goes into producing each intricate dance routine. Each musical number involves
a different large group of committed and enthusiastic dancers ranging for teens
down to the very young. The large numbers of dancers can help produce the
effects used in the old Fred & Ginger movies. If you watch each individual
in the chorus line then you spot that they are giving it 100% attention. It was
nice to see more young lads involved this year too – perhaps that’s the influence
of Strictly? So congratulations go to
both the dancers, choreographers & chaperones.
needs someone to boo at and Abanazer (Have a banana?) is a great role to wind
up the kids with. Paul Gaitskell appeared to enjoy breaking the fourth wall and
courting the reaction of the crowd with his wicked plans. In this version of
Aladdin he is not alone in the wicked states and Sara Jo Harrison was able to attract
just as many boos as the scheming Empress Ezmeanie.
Richards once again took control as director and she has a good antennae for what
works in a panto. The lighting design and wardrobe were both very effective
Photo: Paula Smart
Is there a ‘but’?
I’m afraid so. We were sat towards the back and, at times, we were struggling
with the sound, particularly during the early musical numbers. This isn’t
something that we’ve experienced before at the People’s and we wondered if it
was simply that the speakers at the rear of the venue weren’t on in this
manages to deliver an entertaining panto, at affordable prices, using local
talent. The well-oiled machine delivers a classic panto that encourages the
audience to join in.