Last weekend we had the absolute pleasure of watching Aladdin at the Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells which is currently running for the Pantomime season. I’ve had some pretty awful Panto experiences over the years so was a bit nervous about what might be in store.
However, from the moment Michael Greco appeared on stage for the opening scene as the evil Abananzar it was clear that this was a performance on another level. The next two hours had the whole family captivated, laughing and even dancing in the aisles. A brilliantly engaging show for all ages.
Director John-Jackson Almond has incorporated a range of special effects allowing the stage to be brought to life. There are fireworks, bubbles, water squirts and even snow all of which were received with a range of awe and excitement by younger audience members.
Michael Greco is very convincing as the shows villain and certainly made an impact on my 2 year old son who was utterly terrified of him! Greco was a fantastic sport encouraging the audience to ‘boo’ him as loudly as possible and even gave an impressive performance of Rag N Bone man’s ‘Human’.
Stand out highlights of the show include Jess Robinson’s numerous and flawless impersonations (Shakira, Sharon Osbourne, Cheryl Cole and Alesha Dixon to name a few) as she shone alongside Abananzar as the Slave of the Ring.
Mark Rhodes is hugely likeable as the hero Aladdin, with memorable performances including surfing on his flying carpet to ‘We Need a Hero’ and showing off his very capable singing abilities as he wooed Jasmine to Desacito.
Chris Pizzey’s comical and cool version of Wishee-Washee totally won over our children who all agreed he was their favourite character. There was a particularly funny slap stick scene between Pizzey and Tom Whalley as PC Pong in true Laurel and Hardy style. I’m not sure if they were supposed to make such a mess with the foam on the stage but it certainly caused much hilarity!
Finally, I can’t not mention the wonderful Quinn Patrick who plays Widow Twanky. Patrick has a wardrobe to die for and had us all blushing with his endless innuendos and flirting! I particularly enjoyed the moment Pizzey referred to Twanky as ‘he’ which Patrick didn’t let go unnoticed and had the crowd in stitches.
I can’t recommend this show highly enough. The whole family from toddler to teen and even the adults enjoyed every minute of the two hour performance. I guarantee a visit to Aladdin this Christmas season will leave you feeling festive and grinning from ear to ear.
Aladdin is on at the Assembly Hall Theatre until January 3rd 2018.