The Critics’ Circle enjoyed its annual ‘Panto Bonanza’ meet on Saturday 26th November, which warmed up with pass the parcel and other less traditional party games, before we took our seats in the theatre auditorium for this year’s Nottingham Playhouse pantomime, Aladdin, written by Kenneth Alan Taylor.
As always, the Playhouse panto was bursting with energy and laughs, and mixed stylish choreography and scenery with extraordinary costumes, and just the right amount of cheese! I won’t spoil it for you however, read on to get the lowdown from our young critics and book your tickets ASAP, you don’t want to miss this one!
Lauren Wilson (Critics Circle Editor)
A Five Star Panto!
The streets of Nottingham were filled with laughter and joy last Saturday night as the Nottingham Playhouse panto season began. And this year its Aladdin. So grab your mince pies and magic carpet because it’s time for the ride of your life. With Widow T (Honey G) and Wishee Washee’s beautiful singing of Frozen’s “Let It Go”, it’s bound to be a great night for everyone to enjoy.
John Elkington’s back again and more brilliant than ever. In his role as Widow Twankey is absolutely hilarious. John Elkington just keeps on getting better. The whole cast was amazing and I believe they all deserve a special mention. However Irene-Myrtle Forrester was absolutely amazing and was an actor who really stuck out to me. Her stage presence and beautiful yet powerful voice really stole the show. Irene played WPC Ping and Genie Of The Lamp.
The set was amazing and I really enjoyed the way they used the set to make it look like the genie has built a palace. The costumes were brilliant, John Elkington’s many dresses always make the audience laugh.
Aladdin is the best panto I’ve seen at the Playhouse and would be a brilliant night out with the family this Christmas. It’s a five star panto again at the Playhouse.
The classic tale of Aladdin tells the story of Aladdin and Jasmine’s journey to being accepted as a couple, even though Aladdin is a “street-rat” and Jasmine is a Princess. The sets were extraordinary, from the treasure cave with the detailed cobra entrance, to the wedding chapel in the finale of the show.
The costumes showed the classic personalities of all characters. For example, the simple outfit of Wishee Washee showed how a traditional Chinese boy would dress and the colourful costume of Princess Jasmine is a true representation of how a princess would present herself.
John Elkington returned to Nottingham Playhouse after starring in last year’s Nottingham Playhouse pantomime, Dick Whittington. He was fun as ever, and showed his eccentric personality through his outstanding costumes and improvised audience interaction.
The outstanding character in my opinion was Abanazar. Kevin McGowan was outstanding at showing how the character struggled to decide whether wealth or love is more important. On one hand, he wants the riches that the Genie of the Lamp could provide him with, but on the other hand, he wants a family that he can spend the rest of his life with.
Overall, the show was a complete success and all members of the audience bought their boos and cheers to the show, adding to the traditional nature of a panto!
Aladdin: a technical review
This year’s pantomime at the Nottingham Playhouse was Aladdin. This was very funny and enjoyable to watch. Everyone was laughing and getting involved, not only the children found the show interesting and funny but the adults did as well. The cast sometimes go ‘off script’ to get a joke in that’s aimed at the adults!
Teenagers can enjoy the show as much as young children and adults. The comical parts are aimed at all ages. I am a teenager and I found the show funny and interesting. The show accounts for all ages and humours. It was directed very well and written very cleverly.
The set was incredible. It changed as the performance went on and each scene had a different set. This is interesting because you always want to know what will come next. The sets were very big and everyone who helped to build them must enjoy seeing the smiling and laughing faces of not only the small children but the excited and interested faces of the adults as well. The sets were really interesting and amazingly clever which makes the whole show more exciting and breathtaking.
The lighting was used cleverly and effectively and in an unusual and different way. This gave a different and unusual effect to each scene. Lots of moving lights were used which made everything feel busy and more exciting than any other performance.
They used short clips of music which was clever because even if the children didn’t get the jokes; based on the music and sound effects, the adults did. This made the performance suitable for the whole family, young and old and I would definitely go and see it again!
Aladdin: behind the magic
Throughout this production I enjoyed all the clever ways the set was used. As you arrived into the theatre, there was an enormous gauze in which the word Aladdin was painted on it in 3D. Even though this was not actually 3D it was incredibly realistic. When the show began, Widow Twankey said all the introductions for the show. Then the lights behind the gauze came up and you could then see parts of the first scene, which was set in the marketplace.
During the course of Aladdin, the gauzes are used a lot. For example, when Aladdin arrived in the cave the lamp was hidden in a cupboard covered in a gauze so when the lamp was shown so lights in the cupboard lit up and the lamp was revealed. Other times in which the gauzes were used was when a scene was happening in the front and as the scene ended the gauze backdrop which wouldn’t have expected to be a gauze rose up to reveal a set behind it.
At the start of the second act, there was a scene with loads of lit up planets. I thought the backdrop was very clever because it had a black material backdrop with small white LED lights in it. Also towards the start of the second act some magic carpets were moved along the stage at a high height. Even though you could tell the carpets were on top of something to make them move it still looked realistic from the fact that the thing moving was black.
When Aladdin’s palace appears, I think the use of mirrors when Jasmine and the genie disappear is an extremely clever idea as you can’t really tell they are mirrors. Then later on, in the second act, all of Abanazar’s palace walls appear on wheels. This is a great, fast way for the set to arrive. Finally, in the final scene, 2 Chinese dragons swing up and down to reveal the characters behind them. Overall I think the sets and props were made and designed in an extremely clever way that really made the magic of panto come alive.
Aladdin: a poetic response
There stood a happy and joyful place,
Where our dear Aladdin was in haste,
To marry the beautiful princess of the land,
And whisk her away by her eager hand.
Love at first sight, the pair did see,
Yet Jasmine’s mother would not let it be,
Her daughter must marry the finest of all,
So Aladdin set out at his uncle’s call.
Riches and more the young boy was told,
Were his if he climbed into the cave, filled with gold,
And retrieve for his uncle a magical lamp,
But the cave was dark and cold and damp.
Tricked and trapped he sat alone,
When a bright light came from the dingy stone,
He rubbed the lamp till it shone all bright,
And guided him back to the outside light.
With a genie at hand Aladdin travelled home,
For the princess was his, he was no longer alone,
But the darkness returned, the princess was taken,
So the young boy set out, his happiness forsaken.
With the help of some friends and the dear queen too,
Aladdin saved his princess, and away they flew,
To their happy and joyful town once more,
Where their lives would be loving and magical for sure.
Carpets can be seen soaring across the sky; magic is believed but never seen; rubbing dirt off a rusty old lamp shows the impossible made possible. Amusement is made from the amazing cast by using popular trending challenges. The band is always on time and the set is as detailed as can be. The costumes were far the best by being dazzling, glittery, shimmering and outstanding like a disco ball. My focus was only broken by the laughter of the audience. My snacks remained untouched as I was too busy with the interaction of the show.
Aladdin is a woman?! Actually it worked well, not something I am used to in this theatre world, but it is a convention of pantomime. She was charming and less humorous than the rest of the cast. Abanazar was good but, in my opinion, Wishee Washee was the best.
It wouldn’t be pantomime without the amazing and dazzling costumes of the dame, Widow Twankey. She had multiple costume changes including a teapot, Egyptian princess and large clothes.
They picked young children from the audience to be the stars on the stage and put a smile on everyone’s faces. It was very interactive, with everyone in the audience being encouraged to sing and shout answers to the actors on stage, which made it impossible for anyone wanting to sleep through the show! The dancing was simple yet effective and made the audience want to dance along as well.
I truly love pantomime and look forward to the show each year and, again, I was not disappointed. This was a thoroughly entertaining evening.
Thanky to the Twankey!
On 26th November 2016 I saw Aladdin at the Nottingham Playhouse. As most people will know the story is about a boy named Aladdin (played by Danielle Corlass as in pantomime tradition) who is tricked by his ‘uncle’ to get a lamp from a magic cave, and with a few rubs out pops the Genie! Then he must rescue his love, Princess Jasmine and find a way for them to have their happily ever after and the rest is history.
This is an utterly spellbinding, enthusiastic and larger than life pantomime, sure to leave you in hysterics. From the amazing adaptation of the story to the costumes that will leave you in awe, this really is the best night out possible for the entire family.
For me our dame of the show (John Elkington) really stood out and has yet again put on a truly hilarious roll of laughs… as well as all those fantastic costumes! The set changes were slick and bold and instantly the audience knew where they were. Also the intricate design of every set was so highly detailed! The first scene after the interval really stood out for me with planets floating by until you realised what was happening in a very cleverly thought out sequence. The musical numbers were also very special, from late 20th century music parents would enjoy to modern pop such as Frozen and even the Pen Pineapple Song!!
There was also a heartfelt moment when a few children from the audience were invited up onstage to play musical instruments and this really gave us some “aw” and a few laughs along the way.
I would highly recommend that everyone goes to see Aladdin as it truly was 5/5 for me and THE best pantomime I have ever seen! Here’s waiting for Cinderella next year! Well done Playhouse you have pulled it off again for another Christmas!
A Sparkling Treat
This year the Playhouse pantomime told the story of Aladdin on his quest to rescue his beloved Princess Jasmine and return the magic lamp from the dangerous hold of Abanazar. Full of cheers, boos and laughter Kenneth Alan Taylor once again brings us the perfect pantomime, in fact I preferred this year’s to the couple previous and that’s thanks to every element involved.
Taylor perfectly balances the classic pantomime joke moments and improvisation with songs and a storyline that’s easy and entertaining to follow. The cast were also, as always, brimful of energy and talent; they made every moment feel exciting and important. I especially liked Jasmine White as Princess Jasmine, her face was very expressive throughout and brought us a Jasmine who was not just a passive victim but with a bit of feistiness. And of course John Elkington as Widow Twankey had me rolling in my seat, the script and his own adlibbing created a fantastic character everyone loved.
The designer Tim Meacock did an incredible job on set and costume. The effort put into the elaborate, detailed, hand painted set and hand drawn then crafted costumes always astounds me but this year seemed to go a step further, there were many set changes and each revealed a bright sparkling treat for your eyes. Each costume was so creatively designed and masterfully made they brought the performance to life in a fun and colourful way.
Overall, I would recommend the Playhouse pantomime to anyone, they’re most definitely the best in the country, or at least I think so. Pantomime fan or not the show is so enjoyable and fun it lifts your spirits and for me, the first sign Christmas is coming and it’s time to get excited.
Every year, the Nottingham Playhouse exceeds expectations and raises to bar with its panto. This year was no different. With lovable characters, a wonderful story and a medley of songs, new and old, it’s hard not to laugh while watching this pantomime masterpiece.
A story that we all know and love, brought to life on a very different stage, with a great changes of scene. A combination of humour and frequent changes of scene, it’s fun for everyone, young and old alike.
By changing the scene to China and Egypt (for Abanazar’s palace), the play is given a new burst of life, with more cultures than ever before. This around the world journey is one even the travel sock will never want to end.
The Pantomime- A funny title goes here
There’s something strangely fascinating about the Pantomime. It’s family friendly, and yet has seems so tailored to someone of my taste. And I’m sure someone who has a completely different taste could say the same thing. I’d say I’ve changed the most this year than any other year, and still the Panto is just as amusing as I remember.
The Pantomime is actually hard to review. Part of the joke of the Panto is that it doesn’t change, which means I’m basically writing this review for the third time. But I like that about it. Not that it’s hard to write for, but that it stays the same. It’s only once a year, so it never gets old. But it’s sort of a connection between the years. These days, life seems to fly by, the years blend together and you stop remembering things. At least, that’s how it is for me. But the Panto keeps it all together. You remember all the times they reference the old play, and the actors know it too. While it is seen as a very childish thing, it’s actually very mature and intriguing. It’s very surreal. You know, and the actors know, and by extent the characters know, and everyone knows that…. It’s all for fun. We don’t see that anymore. Sure, some advertising has become somewhat self-aware, but the Pantomime just…. Knows.
Of course, I don’t think the play itself needs reviewing all that much. It’s great. It’s funny, it has old jokes as well as some new ones, all the characters and actors and sets and plot points are dynamic and interesting and all lend themselves to the whole thing. The plot is that of Aladdin, but it’s a lot different from the Disney one. There are more characters, including another genie…. Somehow, and a lot of the characters are different. Aladdin is played by a girl, but still referred to as a boy, which I thought was a nice touch. It’s also set in China, and visits Egypt, and yet neither of those are Arabia….. Hmm.
The bad guy is more charismatic and, well, Panto than in the well-known film, where he’s brooding and very much evil. There’s the Dame, who has been funny for 3 years straight with the same jokes, which both defies all logic and still has the sense of ‘well, it works I guess’.
The sets are nice, especially when the magic carpets are involved, and there is a little montage of the planets all dressed as their corresponding Roman God, which I thought was absolutely brilliant, though I can see it going over the heads of a lot of people. Sure, it has its problems. The bad guy is basically the same as last year, some of the characters weren’t fleshed out very well compared to others, but come on. It’s the Panto. We admire it because it’s not perfect. And that makes it human. Would recommend.