Aladdin (De Montfort Hall) Review

With just days till Christmas, pantomime season is underway up and down the country. De Montfort Hall once again teams up with Imagine Theatre for this year's offering of Aladdin.
The cast of Aladdin. Photo by Pamela Raith Photography.
As pantomime goes this has all the elements that make it a delight throughout. A delicious baddie,  fun comic performances, dazzling magic tricks, plenty of audience participation and some great musical numbers.

Antony Costa relishes every moment as the evil Abanazar, he bats away the audience's boos and extra shout outs with great effect. There's a brilliant running joke where every character recognises him but every time they get the wrong boyband (McFly, Take That, Boyzone to name a few) which leads to him snapping in his final scene to remind the characters and the audience of his time in Blue and their success (and losing to Jedward at Eurovision). For those Blue fans, there is a rendition of 'One Love' and he also sings Queen's 'I Want It All' excellently.

Sam Bailey delights as So Shi, lady in waiting to Princess Jasmine, she boasts a powerhouse vocal range and sings brilliantly, making difficult numbers seem easy. It's not hard to see why she's been asked back for her fourth year running. Sam also shows her flair for comedy and she acts well and pulls some wonderful facial expressions especially around her blossoming romance with Wishie Washee.

Leicester pantomime veteran, Martin Ballard, once again takes on the Dame role for his 30th pantomime season. His Widow Twankey is a hoot. He's fantastic, full of energy and wit. He's matched by Paul Birling who brings his multitude of impressions to his delightful Wishee Washee. From Ant and Dec to Donald Trump and Harry Hill with plenty in between. Whilst all his impressions weren't recognisable, he's undoubtedly great fun to watch.

Together Martin and Paul have the traditional audience singalong moment where they bring up 4 kids to the stage from the audience. It's always a lovely moment but the song choices, 'She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain' and 'When The Saints Go Marching In' could have been better.
Sam Bailey (centre) and the ensemble. Photo by Pamela Raith Photography.
Matthew Pomeroy as Aladdin and Natasha Lamb as Princess Jasmine are perfectly cast as the romantic heart of the story. They provide magic routines that take your breath away and leave you puzzled to how they manage to pull it off. Matthew radiates star quality in every moment and would be at home leading his own large scale magic show. The pair sing a lovely rendition of Taylor Swift's 'Me'.

Nathan Connor is great fun as a body-popping Genie of the Lamp. Talking in rhyme throughout, it would have been fun to see more of him. Gabriella Polcino does a fine job with the Spirit of the Ring and gives a great rendition of 'Defying Gravity' from the musical Wicked. Demitri Lampra is wonderfully charming as the Emperor. The 4 adult and the junior ensemble perform the choreography of Dane Bates with great flair.

It's a visual spectacle throughout with brilliant set and costume design from the Imagine Theatre team. Matt Ladkin atmospheric lighting further enhances the visual spectacle. The magic carpet sequence delights the younger audience members as Aladdin soars across the stage. There's no pantomime horse here but instead an elephant.

It's not the perfect production but it's not far off. Kids around me and my nephew who I took along for his first-ever trip to the theatre loved it. He'll even be asking Santa for his own magic carpet next year and already wants to go again next year!

This pantomime dazzles with delights and should be an essential part of all families lives this Christmas.

Rating: ★★★★ - a near-perfect fantastically enjoyable treat for all ages. Everything a pantomime should be.

Aladdin continues at De Monfort Hall until Sunday 5th January. Visit http://www.demontforthall.co.uk/ to book.
Martin Ballard and Paul Burling and the junior ensemble. Photo by Pamela Raith Photography

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