Director: Sam Kane
Reviewer: Beth Steer
After a roaring success during its run last year, the star-spangled cast of classic Christmas pantomime Aladdin is back by popular demand to Cardiff’s New Theatre.
An ‘Aladdin’s cave of unmissable entertainment’, the show packs a punch with a celebrity cast, a great set and costume design, exciting special effects and a whole lot of oh no he isn’ts. About as far from the 1992 Disney film version of Aladdin as it’s possible to be, Sam Kane’s Aladdin, the pantomime, follows the efforts of Aladdin (Ian ‘H’ Watkins, aka H from 1990s pop band Steps) to win the heart of Princess Jasmine (Holly Bluett) and escape the evil tirade of the trademark villain, Abanazar (Sam Kane).
The show is funny and tongue in cheek, with all the Christmas calamity that you’d expect from Wales’ biggest pantomime. With a cast that delights the audience – constant references, alongside several musical interludes, are made to H’s pop-star status and Genie Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas’ rugby-playing history – the production has the audience laughing out loud and singing along, booing the baddies from their first appearance on stage.
Widow Twankie (Mike Doyle) is the star of the show – playing up to the Cardiff audience with an exaggerated, stereotypical local accent and dialect (‘Aladdin’s stunnin’ that boy, stunnin’ he is’) and making light-hearted digs about Cardiff FC’s success (or lack of) and sarcastic quips: ‘Are you from the dark side? Swansea – God no!’ which are a storming success with the crowd.
Though the songs are not quite what you’d expect, with an array of Steps’ classics and reinvented versions of modern day chart hits, the cast performs well and gets the audience singing along in the aisles. A particularly bizarre interlude comes with the opening of the second act, as Abanazar reinvents Taylor Swift’s hit Bad Blood, proclaiming ‘Aladdin now we’ve got bad blood, although we never had mad love’ in deep, booming tones surrounded by green, spooky lighting. Aladdin and Jasmine’s love song, too, is the rather untraditional Hold My Hand, by pop singer Jess Glynne, and the Genie comes out of the lamp to the tune of Megan Trainor’s All About That Bass, proclaiming ‘every inch of me is magic, from the bottom to the top.’
Culminating in a glitzy, burlesque finale and a Welsh-themed 12 Days of Christmas song, the cast interacts with the audience and appears to be having genuine fun on stage. The special effects, costumes and slapstick humour entertain the audience, and make for a truly pan-tastic evening.
Runs until 17 January 2016 | Image: Contributed