Whitley Bay Playhouse
Until Saturday 7 January 2023
Tickets are available from our affiliate Ticketmaster: https://ticketmaster-uk.tm7559.net/a1aQdQ
Chico Slimani is Aladdin, the smarter brother of Walls' Wishee Washee, who gets into trouble with the not so smart police. Keith and Ben Simmons are the father and son team who are given the run around as the Peking police Pc Yu and Sergeant Me. The resultant for this panto is that the laughs are shared amongst a number of characters in the show.
We need someone to boo at, and Andrew Goddard gives a masterclass as Abanazer - the evil magician who wants the lamp in order to gain more power. He courts the reaction of the audience and the kids respond accordingly.
Isabel Monje and Nigel Collins are the Princess Jasmine and Emperor respectively, Here we have a princess that wants to be with the poor Aladdin but is also of interest to Abanazer. There is always a danger that these two roles can get buried in the mad cap behaviour of the comics in some panto but this show sticks to the story for most of its 130 minute (including interval) run.
The final piece of the jigsaw are the 2 spirits. One is the very self-
assured Spirit of the Ring, given lots of sass by Lucy Kinsella. It was nice to see the role having some attitude rather than fading away as soon as the genie pops out of the lamp (sorry if that was a spoiler!)
Blue Genie Entertainment were always going to give us a Blue Genie and sure enough this was a very tall blue puppet, operated by Beth Robson. In doing so, the show gives more than a passing nod to the 1992 animation.
Backing up the various songs, including It's Chico Time, are 4 professional dancers and a rotation of several teams of younger dancers. Unlike some pantos we have been at, the "panto babes" stayed focussed and carried out choreographer Jo Walls instructions with enthusiasm.
This is the Whitley Bay Panto...so there is another star that regulars would be upset if it didn't turn up and that is The Bench. Sure enough it appeared for the take off scene which is a trademark of this production. The appearance of the ghost whips the young audience into an ever increasing frenzy.
We also had the 12 days of Christmas (if you have read the Tyne Theatre review you'll know that this was their trademark move and they also did Ghostbusters this year - is a panto exchange on the cards?)
Walls and Mawston continue to build on the panto partnership and having that continuity between panto seasons helps the audience get into their role quickly. Having seen Steve Walls in his first Playhouse panto (12 pantos ago), and Daniel Mawston in the shows at Whickham back in the day, it is great to see them cement a partnership that is as good as any in the Tyneside panto scene.Blue Genie continue to deliver a family friendly experience on the North Tyneside coast. The bright costumes and set design give the show a feel of the big league without the audience needing to take out a second mortgage to buy tickets - especially on the 'family special' shows. The show has grown with its audience. Roll on Cinderella next year.
Review: Stephen Oliver
Photos: Steve Brock
Tickets can be bought from the theatre box office and online from our affiliate Ticketmaster: https://ticketmaster-uk.tm7559.net/a1aQdQ