Panto Review: ‘Aladdin’ at The Kings Theatre, Portsmouth
Is this panto, starring Shane Lynch, Ben Ofoedu, Jack Edwards as the panto dame and Lucy Kane worthy of granting all your Christmas wishes? Read on to find out...
Get shining that lamp and thinking up some wishes as my verdict on Aladdin at the Kings Theatre in Portsmouth is in. The production, starring non-other than 90s heartthrob Shane Lynch (yep, the naughty looking one from Boyzone) and Vanessa Feltz’s other half, Ben Ofoedu, was the first production for The Kings by Mark Thompson Productions, and boy, did it impress!
Writers Mike Goble and Nick Mowat, breathe fresh 21st-Century life into the classic script with plenty of modern references, lots of ribbing of nearby Southampton (soz about that guys!) and a mass of “in-jokes” about the area (you know Cosham isn’t in Portsmouth, right?) You can tell the writers know their stuff which is unsurprising when Mike Goble who not only wrote, directed AND starred as the excellent Wishee Washee (phew…busy lad!) also happens to be from Portsmouth.
We follow the tale of poor old Aladdin who’s got the hots for Peking’s Princess Jasmine, but as her dad, the Emperor of China forbids her from meeting the commoners, there’s currently zero chance for their love.. *sob*.
Enter evil Abracadabra…errr… Abbabackingdancer….. Abanazar, played by the devilishly handsome Lynch who manages to encapsulate the creepy undertones of the bad guy. With promises of riches and fortune for Aladdin if he gives him a hand getting a grubby old lamp, this seems like the perfect opportunity to win the girl…or is it?
Daniel Slade plays a strong part as Aladdin, with good vocals and with an endearing feel to his troubles. The chemistry between him and The Voice’s Lucy Kane as Princess Jasmine feels real and Kane’s vocals are particularly incredible.
There’s a mix of modern tunes throughout the show, topped with a fab nostalgia trip courtesy of genie Ben (remember him from Phats & Small?), and Dani Acors performance as Spirit of The Ring is brilliant, reaching a pinnacle with her stewardess inspired number prior to Aladdin’s famous magic carpet ride.
Jack Edwards returned once again to the stage, this year in the role of Widow Twanky and, as to be expected, he is stellar. Jack’s humour and comic timing are impeccable, stealing the show every time he appears. With his West End background, deep affinity with the area (he’s also just so happens to be the theatre’s creative director) and hilariously sardonic delivery, the audience were laughing till their sides hurt – particularly at his absolute distaste for the traditional 12 Days of Christmas, which I’m 99% sure was genuine hatred.
The set designs this year were incredible and vibrant, bringing a real technicoloured, neon glow to the streets of Peking and the magic carpet scene was also utterly captivating, leaving my daughter thinking actual magic was afoot. Also, for those who love a bit of interactivity, the beloved creepy scene this year did not disappoint with a 3D element that had both kids and adults screaming. Honestly, I’m still having palpitations thinking about it!
If I had to be really fussy, I was ever so slightly disappointed that Shane Lynch didn’t have any major singing solos during the show, however, this was more than made up for with some hilarious Boyzone references, shoved in by Widow Twankey, topped with a deliciously awkward Westlife jibe.
Aladdin is definitely the hot show this season, with productions left, right and centre across the whole of Hampshire, but with plenty of audience interactivity, enough blue jokes and pop-cultural references to Berkshire-based Pizza Express branches and good ol’ fashioned fun, The Kings’ show is two and a half hours of perfect festive fulfilment definitely worth the time and the ticket price.