Writer: Andrew Ryan
Director: Andrew Agnew
Reviewer: John Roberts
As pantomime’s go, this reviewer has always found the partnership between The Floral Pavilion and UK Productions to be a fruitful one, bringing the Wirral, pantomimes with bags of charm, personality and heart, so it’s a massive disappointment that Aladdin falls remarkably short in comparison to its previous year’s offerings.
Making a return to the venue and also directing the production is Andrew Agnew, who on his previous visit to The Floral had this reviewer in hysterics, sadly his production lacks the polish and finesse to really make a pantomime fly. Sadly, the production is lumbered with lacklustre performances, a set that lacks the wow factor and jokes which land faster and flatter than a pancake missing the frying pan. Andrew Ryan’s script tries hard to be in the moment but when his jokes and lines are delivered in a manner that appears that the cast don’t care, then sadly, we the audience don’t either and that’s the bitter taste that stays throughout especially during some of the staple pantomime scenes such as the Ghost Bench and a “slop scene” where there really isn’t any drive or passion or much slop.
As the titular hero Bradley Judge gives plenty of energy, but at this performance, his vocals were pitchy and regularly off-key especially during songs with Jennifer Harding as the Slave of the Ring. Kelsie-Rae Marshall delivers a strong performance as Princess Jasmine and her solo song is delivered with passion and confidence. Michael Chance as Widow Twankey is woefully underused and is more a foil for Agnew’s antics than a central character within the pantomime. The show is really stolen however by Bill Ward as Abanazar, who dances around the stage with the energy of a Duracell bunny and finds a good balance between the evilness needed to make a panto villain successful while still keeping the audience on side.
The young performers from Hoylake School of Dance shine brightly whenever they are on stage and give their all, they are tight and crisp, unlike the productions senior dancers who need some serious cleaning throughout Lee Lomas’ uninspired choreography.
It would also be wrong not to comment on the fact that you can see the hydraulic lift cable (even from Row U of the stalls) throughout the flying sequence which strips the scene of any of its magic and it’s this attention to detail throughout that really drops the quality of this production, which by all accounts has all the right ingredients to make a brilliant pantomime. but one can’t hold back on a performance just because it is full of school children and not a room of full paying punters and that’s what it feels like here… Hopefully, next year’s production of Snow White can restore the panto magic at The Floral once again!
Run until 6 January 2019 | Image: Brian Roberts