Naomi Simpson reviews Michael Sturminger’s powerful and frighteningly thought-provoking play, performed at the Symphony HallWritten by Naomi Simpson on 27th March 2017
Review: ‘Aladdin’ at the Wolverhampton Grand
The infectious joy and enthusiasm of 'Aladdin' gets under Holly Reaney's skin
“The pleasure the actors took in their roles created an infectious atmosphere and hilarity for the audience.
Pantomime gets a bad reputation in the theatre world; being best known for slapstick humour, humiliating audience participation and unreliable acting. However, the Wolverhampton Grand’s performance of Aladdin stands as testament to the excellence of pantomime. The performance exhibits a popular cast including Joe McElderry as Aladdin, Lisa Riley as the Slave of the Ring and Ben Faulks as the Chief of Peking Police, all of whom offer a stellar performance. The pleasure the actors took in their roles created an infectious atmosphere and hilarity for the audience. The fear for any pantomime performance is a ‘dead’ audience. However, there wasn’t a moments silence in the auditorium as it was constantly filled with laughing, clapping, singing and of course the essential ‘boo-hiss’ at the arrival of Abanazar.
There was a tangible chemistry between the cast and their ability to laugh at themselves, with jokes about acting school, past roles and the challenges of panto life.. There were a couple of minor blunders during the performance, most notably the accidental flying off of Washee’s shoe in act one and then the flying off of his leg in act two (which made for an excellent coincidental continuity) were well handled and made funnier by the cast.
“The show expertly balanced classic pantomime humour, crude jokes and local humour, whilst also maintaining a cultural relevance...
Wolverhampton proposes a unique performance of Aladdin, as it was filled with a celebration of (and condemnation) of the local area. This was particularly due to Doreen Tipton taking on the role of Princess Jasmine’s mother, the Lazy Empress of China. Tipton, known as ‘Queen of the Black Country,’ is a famous personality in the area having become an internet sensation with her YouTube channel and one woman show. It is worth seeing just for her witty gambits about the NHS, the benefits system and her ‘real’ daughters. The show expertly balanced classic pantomime humour, crude jokes and local humour, whilst also maintaining a cultural relevance including references to Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and dabbing.
The stage in itself was a spectacle of glitter, colour and pyrotechnics. Seamlessly changed between, it transported the audience to wide range of places including Widow Twankey’s laundrette, the streets of Peking, the castle and Aladdin’s cave. Most impressively was the obligatory carpet ride, enacted to the song Defying Gravity, where McElderry did a 360° rotation whilst on the carpet and flew to the heights of the circle, waving at the audience. The magic was made all the more real as there were no signs of wires or other mechanisms. Magic is a key theme of the performance, and of pantomime itself, as it manages to effortlessly transcend the constraints of other forms of theatre.
“The show was full of music and hilarity creating a magical atmosphere both on the stage and in the audience...
An excellent effort from all of the actors with no noticeable weak link. However, special commendation must be made of Adam C Booth and his performance of Washee. His endless energy propelled the show. His effortless engagement with the audience made everyone feel part of the performance and the family. The show was full of music and hilarity creating a magical atmosphere both on the stage and in the audience. It was definitely a family favourite in my household with everyone thoroughly enjoying it, even a bestselling comedian would be envious of the laughter which emanated from the Grand.
Aladdin will be performed at the Wolverhampton Grand until January 22nd 2017. For more information, follow this link: http://www.grandtheatre.co.uk/whats-on/panto/aladdin