Festive 18/19North WestPantomimeReview

Aladdin – The Hope Street Theatre, Liverpool

Writer: Jessica Lea

Director: Sam Donovan

Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin

It was probably the title that made the team change the ancient rules of pantomime: Instead of a girl as the principal boy they decided to bring A-lad-in. [Editor: Groan] The lad in question being Adam McCoy who wastes no time using his youthful good looks to win over the audience to support his quest for fame and fortune.

Of course, several other liberties are taken with the script which is not only anchored in Merseyside but peppered with spicy, not to mention the kind of saucy, Scouse, that would not look out of place upon the stage of Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre.

There is nothing like a Dame, and Jamie Greer shows the kind of stage confidence needed to carry it off. Aided and abetted, of course, by a series of outrageous costumes. Matching him in the costume department (designed by Jay Lay Designs) and mopping up most of the boos and hisses is Emma Bispham who thoroughly enjoys camping up the role of Baddie Abanazer and adlibbing bits with the audience.

On the other side, the Emperor’s role could do with a bit more beef, especially as a figure who should be feared. It will come as no surprise to many that Tori Hargreaves, who plays his daughter The Princess, has a good grounding in musical theatre. Tori’s singing is powerful, fluent and delightful. And to pull the audience into the emotion of the night, all good pantos need a poor put-upon-peasant to pity. This role fell to Liam Dascombe who hamms it up superbly as Aladdin’s brother, Wishee Washee, he is the essential clown and works his crowd well with a mix of pathos and broad humour.

Glittering up the stage in over-the-top sparkly outfits and adding plenty of glamour are the dutiful Genie, Helen Carter, and the other purveyor of magic, The Slave of the Ring, Maia Johnson. Sorry girls, but despite your efforts, “Egypt’s Got Talent” is unlikely to become a TV stalwart.

The second half brings us much more panto exuberance which is particularly effective in the in-the-round setting. The young audience is only too ready to join in the many hand-clapping songs, the “behind you” set-pieces and other traditional tomfoolery.

Some of the younger ensemble members do struggle with volume and diction. But their brash, colourful dance numbers are excellent for such young performers. Full marks to choreographer Lindsay Inglesby for the way she shows off their talents. They have both remarkable discipline and precision for their ages. A triumph for the Drops of Light company’s community theatre approach

Director Sam Donovan manages his stage fluently and the panto-in-the-round set-up to great effect.  A spellbinding night out for kids of all ages… Oh, yes, it is!

Runs until 30 December 2018 | Image: Contributed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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