Yes folks Panto season is well and truly here (Oh No it isn’t, Oh yes it is!) and last night I had the chance to see Aladdin at Venue Cymru in Llandudno and what a performance it was as we were travelled to far off, magical, lands.
Not only was the show a celebration for John Evans with this being his 10th year doing panto at Venue Cymru, but the show also scored a pantomime try by having Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas in the cast playing “Alfie” the Genie of the Lamp!
Bridgend-born Gareth Thomas, known as ‘Alfie’, was the first Welsh rugby player to reach 100 caps and is one of the most iconic and respected figures in world sport. Aladdin mark’s Gareth’s third appearance in pantomime having spent the last two festive seasons starring in Cardiff winning rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, and will make Aladdin’s wishes come true as the Genie of the Lamp.
The theatre was packed with all ages during last night’s performance from 1-year-olds to 80-year-olds, which goes to show that at this time of year we all love a good pantomime to get the family generations together for a night of fun and laughter.
The show started with being whisked to Hava a Banana’s, erm, Abanazar’s Desert Lair for an introduction to the magical adventure that we would all be embarking on for the evening, small children be wary as there is something scary here that may have you hiding your face behind your mum or dad, but wow that was very impressive (No spoilers here folks).
We are then taken to Old Peking and the pantomime was well on its way for a night that would lead to so many belly laughs, a few slip ups (Which all handled brilliantly, this was only the casts second show). But boy oh boy what a show, with an incontinent dog, flying wig and flying toilet rolls this was a night that I would never forget and all the audience loved the show, I’ve never been to a pantomime with so many people laughing so hard!
Aladdin Takes Us To Far Away Lands with Wonderful Sets
The set design for Aladdin is amazing, it’s so colourful and beautifully designed, the overall feel of the sets makes them feel bigger than what they possibly are and each location for the scenes was a visual delight to watch and certainly added to the wonders of the world of Aladdin and his magical world.
The visual effects during the show are brilliant from opening with the (shhh) to the Aladdin on his Magic Carpet, now that is something that you really have to see, I swear I could hear a few “gasps” from some of the kids in the audience at that point in the show. The visual effects are created by The Twins FX who are the leaders in visual FX, illusions and animatronics they’ve worked on shows that have included, flying dragons, sea monsters, Santa’s flying sleigh and even Cinderella’s flying coach!
These guys are pure talent and my hat is tipped to their amazing work in Aladdin, so well done Gary and Paul Hardy-Brown.
Adding to the sets, the FX and the brilliant performances from the cast, let’s not forget the brilliant choreography from Steven Harris, a superb job that brings more magic and entertainment to the audience for a great night at the theatre.
Aladdin has a Magical Cast
So on to the cast dear readers, I have to say that I loved Gareth Thomas as the Genie of the Lamp, he was so funny did so well with keeping a straight face (well most of the time), who wouldn’t break down in stitches when some very funny ad-libbing was going on.
As I mentioned earlier, this is John Evens‘ 10th year at Venue Cymru, with over 30 years’ experience in the world of entertainment, John shines with his performance of Wishee Washee and his comic timing and mannerisms are perfect during the performance, a pure joy to watch.
Window Twankey, played by Andy Jones was brilliant, with the quick costume changes and delightful performance, Andy has been one of the best Panto dames that I’ve seen in years.
In all Panto there is always that villain that you love to hate and Michael Howe as Abanazer is certainly one of those, his performance as the panto baddy was brilliant, the kids loved screaming at him each time he came on and he must have had an impression on them, when asked “What should we do with Abanazer?”, lots of kids shouted, “KILL HIM!”, to which Gareth Thomas replied, “We can’t kill him this is Panto”, just brilliant. pure Pantomime gold.
Luke Higgins was brilliant as Aladdin, he has so much energy on stage, running around, singing, dancing and duelling (seriously folks). One thing that my mum (she does love a good panto) picked up on was how much he is like a young Tommy Steele and I had to agree, his performance as Aladdin was a joy to watch.
Emporer Ming, played by Keith Higham is certainly a character that works very well with Widow Twankey and Keith was great alongside his cast members, Holly Bluett was lovely as Princess Jasmine and what a lovely singing voice. Danielle Stephen was great as Scheherazade (no wonder Abanazer had trouble saying that!) Popping on to the stage from time to time after the magical ring beckons her, again another brilliant actress with a wonderful performance.
Aladdin is an amazing pantomime and I couldn’t fault it, it was a night out that had my chuckle muscles working so hard that I can still feel them calming down this morning, my recommendation is, go see Aladdin at Venue Cymru, it’s worth every penny and let’s face it, it is panto season and this is a show that you really don’t want to miss. Aladdin is running until the 31 Dec at Venue Cymru.