Aladdin is a tale that is familiar to all of us. It’s a story of a young man who seeks his fortune and the hand of a beautiful princess. But it’s not all plain sailing and Aladdin has to contend with a number of challenges on his quest, not least the evil magician Abanazar. Disney immortalised the story in their animated film of 1992 and a new live-action version is coming in 2019.
Aladdin has all the traits to make it a great choice for a pantomime, especially when you add on a good dose of thigh-slapping comedy and show-stopping song and dance numbers.
The Worthing version of Aladdin at the Pavilion theatre doesn’t disappoint. The show starts with colourful lights and mystical music and then the villain of the show arrives. Unconventionally, Abanazar is played by female comedian Vikki Stone, who instantly attracted boos from the floor. Followed swiftly by the rest of the cast and a rousing rendition of The Greatest Show and the audience were hooked. The story unfolds as per the traditional tale, interspersed with cutaway slots with the main characters – Aladdin, Princess Jasmine, Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee (Aladdin’s step-brother). These worked brilliantly at getting the audience involved and setting up participation later on in the show.
The staging was very simple but very impressive. A series of set pieces, panels and curtains were expertly operated to bring alive the streets of Baghdad and Widow Twankey’s laundry. The scenes inside the cave where Aladdin finds the magical lamp were particularly well done and form the setting for meeting the Genie.
Voiced by the booming Brian Blessed, the Genie is a towering puppet reaching high above the other characters. It’s traditionally styled but with a (blue) hint of the famous Robin Williams Disney version.
All of the cast were brilliant, including the chorus of youngsters. Lee Latchford-Evans as Aladdin finds the right balance of pantomime hero but without being cheesy and Rebecca Keatley is perfect as Princess Jasmine. For me, the stand out performer was Vikki Stone as Abanazar though. It would have been easy to play a straight evil villain but Abanazar is slightly weird and very silly! What was really fun was when the cast members threw in unexpected lines, and the others creased up with laughter. It added to the humour of the whole show and made for some very memorable moments.
I went to the pantomime with my husband and two children, aged three and six. It was our first panto, and the children didn’t really know what to expect. As I thought, everyone really loved the show and we talked about it all the way home (and the next day….) We would definitely recommend it for a family visit and are looking forward to making it part of our festive traditions each year. Find out about timings and how to book in our events section.
I’ve come up with my top tips to help you get the most of your trip:
– going into the venue and the theatre can be overwhelming for younger ones, so allow plenty of time to find your seats and get settled before the show starts
– whilst the story is the same, the panto is different from the Disney film so try and explain this to your children beforehand (and avoid multiple questions throughout)
– some of the parts with Abanazar (including the very first scene) are mildly scary but don’t last long
– the seats don’t have a lot of leg room so try not to take lots of bags or big coats
– drinks and snacks are available in the main bar and inside the auditorium
– the show is two and a half hours long with an interval after 70 minutes
Did you know?
For the history buffs out there – the English version of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp was translated from the original One Thousand and One Nights by Edward William Lane in the 19th Century. And where did he translate it I hear you ask? Right here in Worthing, at 4 Union Place, which makes Aladdin even more special!