Director: Ed Curtis
Musical Director: Andy Pickering
Choreographer: Stillie Dee
Reviewer: Fraser MacDonald
As the festive season hits full swing, Edinburgh’s favourite variety triplet return to the King’s Theatre in Aladdin, showing they are an entertainment force that is difficult to beat. Telling the classic story of the pauper from Peking who’s luck changes when he finds a magic lamp holding the solution to all his problems. Faced against the evil Abanazer, Aladdin must rescue his love, Princess Jasmine, to save the day and his family’s fortunes.
As pantomimes go, Aladdin has a well balanced mix of music, dance, comedy, story and audience participation. A well written script bursts with current references, goading the audience with its chat on the infamous referendum. Edinburgh pantos, like all other regions, has its own traditions and the King’s continues the slagging of Morningside and Leith as well as adding in some new sequences and slotting in a real gem for Scottish panto anoraks – Bob Black’s fur coat routine.
Edinburgh’ much loved pantomime triplet – Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott – take to the King’s stage again this year and it’s clear to see why they have been in the game so long. Allan Stewart’s quick quips leave even the cast in stitches and his talents as a singer and as dame are confirmed in his performance. Andy Gray gives his usual ‘glaikit’ skit as Wishee Washee. Grant Stott has to accept the usual pelters from his co-stars as ‘baddie’ Abanazer, but gets revenge with potentially the best line in the whole panto – “badder than an MSP”. It is clear to the audience that the three love what they do, elongating scenes as much for their self indulgence as the audience’s enjoyment. Greg Barrowman – carrying both name and talent of his uncle John – excels as Aladdin. Principals, although central to the storyline are often forgotten in favour of the comedy in panto. Not here, however, as Barrowman shows he is worth his salt. The quirks he shows give a strong hint to who he has understudied for the past three years (hint: it’s a family member), but he shows distinct talent in his own right and performs the rôle of Aladdin well. Supporting cast and chorus all play their own important part in making the show a success; an incredible feat with such a small cast.
The King’s have really embraced technology – one of the most visually spectacular pantos of the year truly has jaws on the floor at some incredible effects. With may surprises along the way, it would be cruel to spoil them. What can be said, though, is that there is never a dull moment in this pantomime. Lighting is vibrant and punchy, really pulling the set out from its flats and emphasising the story for younger viewers. There are some particularly clever lighting sequences coupled with some impressive backdrops. The cave of wonders, in contrast, is totally underwhelming. One may have expected to see at least a jewel but it would appear this was not the case. What does not disappoint is the costumes: arguably some of the most beautiful in any panto in Scotland this or any year, costumes range from hilarious to stunning. Every time Allan Stewart appears on stage, it is in a new costume, yet he remains pristine. The wardrobe department deserve a round of applause all on their own.
To conclude, Aladdin is a magical punchy and entertaining adventure (if a little short, at 2 hours inc interval) for all the family. If you’re looking for festive cheer in Edinburgh this Christmas, look no further than Leven Road. Only one question remains on the lips of those who have seen this panto: Is there anything Allan Stewart cannot do?!
Runs until 18 January 2015