Theatre Royal Windsor panto review: Aladdin
PUBLISHED: 10:26 23 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:26 23 December 2019
© 2017 Jack Ladenburg
Keep the Christmas spirit alive with the Theatre Royal Windsor's panto Aladdin
Every December, it is our family Christmas tradition to go and see the pantomime at Theatre Royal Windsor, and this year was no exception. We get dressed up, buy our popcorn and take our seats ready for the glittery curtain to go up. This year's tale is the magical story of Aladdin - a story of forbidden love, a generous genie and a magic carpet. Throw in an enormous mummy, a lively elephant and a weary camel, everyone's favourite fox, Basil Brush, and of course, Windsor's calamitous comedy duo, Kevin Cruise and Steven Blakeley, and you have the magic mix.
The show opens with the evil Abanazar (Paul Nicholas), dubbed the Baddest Baddie Ever, plotting to get his hands on the magic lamp by persuading Aladdin to go into a dark cave to get it for him. Meanwhile, Aladdin (Joe-Thompson-Oubari) has his sights set on marrying the Princess Jasmine (Rhiannon Bacchus), who is kept under lock and key by her mother (Marti Webb). Aladdin finds the lamp, yet Abanazar locks him in the cave. But with the help of the stunning Slave of the Ring (Billie Hardy) and the exuberant Genie of the Lamp (Duane Gooden), he escapes and becomes Prince. But Abanazar hasn't finished with him yet… the villain steals the lamp and the princess (cue lots of booing and hissing from the audience).
Each year, the panto follows pretty much the same format and it is these jokes and acts that are eagerly awaited and well-loved in our family. We look forward to seeing Kevin Cruise, who plays Wishee-Washee, set his sweets aside and tell the audience to let him know if anyone goes near them throughout the show. We relish seeing Steven Blakeley (Widow Twankey, the most glamorous dame ever) cover Kevin in cake, water and slime. We love to get up out of our seats with the entire theatre to dance to a medley of dance hits, and shout at the top of our voices: "He's behind you". But most of all, we are delighted by the 12 Days of Christmas song, where all kinds of paraphernalia is thrown out into the audience, including water, a bra, toilet rolls and more. And this brilliant interaction between the cast and the audience puts a smile on everyone's face. That, along with the double entendres, colourful costumes and choice of popular songs from the year just past…
I thought the singing was exceptionally good this year; Joe and Rhiannon showed off their voices as they sung Olly Murs and Demi Lovato's Up (wow!), Marti's rendition of Slipping Through My Fingers from Mamma Mia! brought a tear to my eye and we loved the spectacle of the flying carpet while Joe sang City of Stars. But I think the best and most surprising part for me this year, which still has me smiling right now, has to be when Kevin and Steven, who are celebrating their 10th year in panto together, performed the iconic dazzling dance from Dirty Dancing. It was incredible, and you have to see it to believe it. They - and the audience - were clearly Having the Time of their Life!
Aladdin offers pure escapism for a few hours for all ages, with the show's characters guaranteed their happy ever after. If you haven't booked your tickets yet; do! Due to popular demand, this year's show is being extended for an extra week, and let's face it, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the Windsor panto!