Published on February 13th, 2012 | by Jenny Foxe0
Review: Aladdin – The Pantomime @ Solstice Theatre Navan
St Mary’s Musical Society present a fantastic panto and this year it’s Aladdin that gets the ultimate panto makeover. The show opens with the baddest of baddies, Abanezer (Rich Cullen) reciting his evil rhyming plot to get his gnarly, undulating fingers on the magic lamp. The audience was sold straight away. Rich plays a fantastically evil but lovable panto baddie. I wanted to cheer everytime he came on rather than the obligatory boo.
The curtains open to reveal a North African souk and after the first energetic, well-choreographed and performed musical number, featuring what seems like a cast of hundreds, the audience is introduced to Aladdin (Ultan O’Cinneide), his brother, Wishy Washy (Matt McGuirk), the Princess Jasmine (Tracy Armstrong) and her lady in waiting, So Shy (Aoife Hoey). There follows a rather madcap, all singing, all dancing, all heart clutching and star gazing, child beating and knicker washing version of the traditional Aladdin story without so much as a perfunctory nod toward political correctness.
Written by Killian Donnelly, no element of the traditional pantomime is left out of this production. The dialogue throughout is peppered with pop cultural references, puns and jokes aimed at all ages, complete with Badum Tish noises. The dame Widow Manky (Ronan Mooney) is larger and louder than life and as crude as Benny Hill after the watershed. The genie (Barry Justin Kelly) is as camp as Kilmuckridge in a sunny July. He made an impressive arrival on stage performing a song and dance to the tune of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way. Aladdin and Jasmine sing a few Disney style romantic duets extremely well and Wishy Washy and So Shy add some very welcome comic relief to the mushiness of it all. There’s also a baffling ‘everybody run’ sequence featuring some very clever choreography and hilarious tempo and dance changes.
Being nit picky, I had a few criticisms. I would’ve liked to see more Abeneezer and less Widow Manky. Aladdin and Jasmine were slightly upstaged by the bigger, louder characters. So Shy is a great character who is a little underused and I’ve seen some more realistic magic carpet sets done just as cheaply. Some of the references were a little dated too; ‘Who’s Britney Spears?’ asked my 6 year old. All that aside though, it is a panto and one of the cleverer ones I’ve seen. Young and old members of the audience happily got involved and seemed to all enjoy themselves thoroughly, booing, ‘Oh no you can’t!’ing and doing the ‘Jedward’ on cue. Overall, it was a great evening for all the family and not an overpriced flashing toy to be seen.
Aladdin – The Pantomime is showing in the Solstice Theatre Navan on Feb 16th 17th & 18th at 8pm and Feb 19th at 3pm. Tickets €15