Review: Aladdin at Harrogate Theatre

Saturday 26th November 2022 at Harrogate Theatre.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Aladdin, tricky to stage but irresistible to programmers come Christmas season, brings a whole lot of fun to Harrogate with this production. With its charming ruffian lead and wronged princess, its very bad Bad Guy and very good Good Guys – and not forgetting the lovable genie and their magical capabilities, it is a pretty solid choice for all the family.

Our leads are a perfectly matched pair of enthusiastic youngsters as Christina Harris’ Princess So-Shy and Colin Kiyani’s Aladdin beam their way through a classic story of forbidden love (with some magic and wickedness along the way of course). Tim Stedman remains a total delight of Panto Land, with Wishee Washee bounding across the stage full of beans and bounce and childish glee. Howard Chadwick also returns as Widow Twankey, who owns the stage every time she appears (with Chadwick also doubling perfectly as the “H” character in a quirky Line of Duty strand which keeps the grown ups entertained).

And the all-important “Genie in a Bottle” is the fantastic Ebony Feare who must surely have graduated from the same Panto Conservatoire as Stedman, matching him for energy, like-ability and comic flair – and not just as Genie but also as DCI Kate in that winning pop-culture off-shoot. Michael Lambourne brings real relish to bad guy Abbanazar – a super fan of ABBA no less, and basks in the knowing eyebrow when doubling as the good twin brother, the Emperor. Stephanie Costi also gets a shoutout for Pandora the adorable Twankey family panda – a big winner in all her Mr Blobby-type mini tantrums and cuteness.

Aladdin’s magic carpet ride to the tune of “Spaceman” provides one of the biggest numbers on offer, but the show also goes all-out in set design with Widow Twankey’s super duper (and suitably calamitous) washing machine invention. In fact, set designs from Foxton give the whole production that sense of cartoonish boldness which is so wondrous for young audiences. Lighting from Jane Lalljee provides some suitably dramatic segues -particularly when it comes to the Genie, and Morgan Brind’s costume designs not only gifts Widow Twankey with show-stopping numbers but also gives the princess her twirling rights and playfully brings the circus to town with Wishee Washee’s ensemble.

Director Marcus Romer clearly knows the footholds of panto well, and Co-writers Phil Lowe and David Bown show great affection for the local area and its community with Betty’s and nearby favourites enjoying plenty of shout-outs. Songs are aplenty, of course, with the classic singalong providing much giddiness for the youngsters and revamps of classics of yesteryear to keep the grown-ups happy too. I’d say Act 1 runs a little long for the attention spans of the youngest members of the audience perhaps, but most importantly, the buzz and boundless energy on stage makes this show definitely one to see if you have little ones in need of entertaining.

As ever, there’s plenty to enjoy in Harrogate Theatre’s panto offering – so if you’re looking for a fun family outing to enjoy, you’ll do well with a trip to see Aladdin.

Aladdin plays at Harrogate Theatre until January 15th 2023 – you can find more information and tickets here.

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