The Bristol Hippodrome
Saturday 9th December 2017 – Sunday 7th January 2018
If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I’m not a huge fan of pantomimes so I was pleased and a little surprised to find myself so thoroughly entertained by Aladdin at the Bristol Hippodrome which stars Joe Pasquale as Wishee Washee, Hayley Tamaddon as Princess Jasmine and Marti Pellow as Abanazar.
ALADDIN BRISTOL REVIEW
Over the past few years Practically Perfect Mums has reviewed a good selection of The Bristol Hippodrome’s panto offerings including Cinderella, Snow White, Dick Whittington and last year’s Cinderella starring Torvill and Dean. Aladdin manages to be quite different to the others, less camp and more an atmospheric, funny musical and yet it still retains the panto-essentials which we Brits know (and love?!) so well.
The start of the show is announced by a crash and flashing lights which interrupt the excited pre-performance murmur around the theatre, immediately silencing the audience and grabbing our attention. There’s no warm up period: as soon as the show starts we’re plunged into full on dramatic action which begins at Abanazar’s Egyptian temple. Rather than the colourful show cloths we often see, there’s a proper set framed by huge chinese dragons with illuminated eyes.
Joe Pasquale (Wishee Washee) does a brilliant job of working the audience, encouraging “call and response” audience participation at all the right times:
Note to audience: Make sure you sing loud enough when your section is asked to or you may be on the receiving end of some powerful water pistol action. Joe is very funny and clever in his delivery, much of the time talking to us at approximately one hundred miles an hour! We particularly enjoy his intervention in a romantic scene between Princess Jasmine (Hayley Tamaddon) and Aladdin (Alexis Gerred) where everyone has the giggles and it’s hard to imagine that his fellow actors’ corpsing might be staged.
Throughout the show, Widow Twankey (Davis Robbins) shows off an enviable wardrobe of outrageous pantomime dame’s outfits, each one more absurd than the last. Her final ensemble for the wedding adds about a metre onto his/her normal height with an array of long feathers atop an orange beehive barnet to rival that of Marge Simpson herself!
Marti Pellow makes a marvellously boo-able villain, even managing to stay oddly in character during a super-silly scene about a shirt missing from Widow Twankey’s laundry, maintaining a menacing Scottish accent whilst batting absurd lines back and forth:-
“Is she sure that the shirt that’s short is a long sleeve shirt not a short sleeve shirt?”
Well done on keeping a straight face Marti, an enviable talent indeed!
And if all that doesn’t convince you that this is a proper bonkers panto, perhaps the half a dozen giant pandas who join in with Aladdin and Princess Jasmine’s love song or the four penguins doing the can-can, can!
ALADDIN BRISTOL AGE SUITABILITY
If you have children of a timid disposition, this might not be the best panto for them. There are lots of loud noises, voice changes and some other effects which scared a few of the younger children in the audience: potential concerns are a full stage height King Kong, a giant snake and a 3D film featuring rats and spiders amongst other things.
On the other hand, my thirteen and nine year old loved it and from a selfish point of view, I enjoyed it more than other pantos we’ve seen so I was happy!
My youngest is nine, but I suspect he would have found it scary at six. Due to the loud noises and potentially scary creatures and creepy crawlies, I’d suggest an age guide of at least six years old – or maybe even eight to nine if they’re more timid. If you’re taking a child who has sensitive ears, earplugs or ear defenders might be advisable.
Aladdin is one of the best pantomimes I’ve seen, particularly for adults and slightly older children. As well as a fun, fast-paced, colourful show with a talented cast and a magic carpet ride, there were all the elements we’d expect from panto, including singalongs, a gaudy dame, love triumphing over evil, more double entendres than you can shake a stick at and lots of audience participation.
Practically Perfect Mums gives Aladdin Bristol a big thumbs up. Highly recommended.
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