A wish come true! Aladdin is a family favourite when it comes to pantomime. The recent Disney film of 'Aladdin' has caused some confusion to young audiences, as the action is set in ancient Arabia, and the villain of the piece is called 'Jaffar', an evil vizier and magician.The pantomime version predates the film by almost two hundred years. The first recorded performance of 'Aladdin' was in 1788, at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. In the Arabian Nights the villain was not named, but the 1813 production of the pantomime called him 'Abanazar', by which he is still known today.
Review by Lee Kettle
IT isn't even over yet – but already, Tamworth Pantomime Company's performance of Aladdin is being billed as the biggest and best pantomime to ever grace Tamworth Assembly Rooms.
And big it certainly is. So much was crammed into the two-hour performance, that it's difficult to pick out the highlights.
The show tells the story of the romance between Aladdin (played by Neil Lucas) and Princess So Shi (Olivia Shepherd), with magic rings, a genie in a lamp and an assortment of weird and wonderful characters thrown into the mix.
The star of the show was veteran actor Terry Batham, who played the villainous Abanazar.
He had all the qualities of a typical pantomime villain – from the voice, to the look and the way he told audience members as young as two months old to shut up whenever they interrupted him. And younger audience members lapped it up, firing back at his insults at every opportunity.
Company manager Alex Farrell also did a dazzling job as Widow Twankey.
Not only did he don make up, high heels and a wig, but each scene saw him pull off an extravagant dress of some sort. He certainly had the most amusing performance of the pantomime and emphasised the point that the company doesn't take itself too seriously.
One bizarre moment saw him sing a rendition of Frozen classic Let It Go – about ordering a Chinese takeaway.
The script was wonderfully written. References to Tamworth were cleverly interwoven into the script – one example being when they described the ancient city of Peking being just beyond The Leyfields. One thing that stood out was how interactive the performance was – it relied on the audience so much, and the crowd loved it.
That's not to say the performance was perfect. At times, it felt like the company was trying too hard – there were so many distractions from the main story that it was easy to forget just what it was all about. And some jokes just didn't land well and left awkward silences. But at least the actors on stage acknowledged that and moved on.
Overall, the show was what a pantomime should be – fun, festive and family-oriented. If you've got young ones and want to keep them thoroughly entertained, then Aladdin is certainly the show for you.
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