It’s the most wonderful time of the year… it is officially panto season!
The time has come to get in the festive spirit, take your friends or family to the theatre, and shout a ‘HIYA WISHY!’ or ‘OH YES HE DID!’ to the actors on stage over the course of 2 hours. Glorious!
On Saturday evening I had the joy of watching the Lyric Hammersmith’s Aladdin. Here are my highlights and why I think you should see it too!
This magical new adaptation is by award-winning comedian, actor and composer Vikki Stone, and there were plenty of laughs and modern twists to the plot.
Obviously panto is a great time to take kids to the theatre, and for a lot of people it is their first ever experience of theatre, but there’s plenty of fun for the adults too. Expect lots of political jokes around the last year that will really make you giggle!
And don’t forget, pantos are often full of songs that you know and love, and this is no exception!
A magic carpet!
The set and lighting were really fun and colourful throughout the show.
In any production of Aladdin I’m always hoping for a convincing magic carpet, and this one did not disappoint! Jaws were dropping around the room as it began to fly, and the child in front of me proclaimed to his mum, “I didn’t see strings or anything!” It really felt magical.
The show ended with a flurry of snow, and I must say that nothing makes me feel cosier than being snowed on whilst sitting in the comfort of a theatre!
The whole cast were fantastic. Gracie McGonigal was so likeable as Wishy, and her big number in Act 2 fully convinced me that as soon as she has finished this run she needs to be cast in a West End show. Irvine Iqbal played the perfect baddie that we love to hate as Abanazer, whilst Qasim Mahmood and Ellena Vincent were the coolest Aladdin and Jasmine I’ve seen.
The standout performance for me had to be Kate Donnachie’s. Have you ever seen a colourful, sequined, beatboxing Genie? I certainly hadn’t until now, and it was very impressive. Kate plays the Genie as well as the Emperor, who is totally hilarious and has an uncanny resemblance to our Prime Minister. Her performance was so convincing and I hate to admit that it took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that it was the same actor playing both roles!
Every year the Lyric casts young people in the Ensemble, and you could feel their youthful energy and enthusiasm radiating throughout the show. The actors aged 18-25 go on a paid training scheme with an intensive week of Panto Bootcamp.
Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan says in the programme welcome, “Supporting young creative talent from West London is at the heart of what we do.” You can find out more about getting involved with the Lyric’s opportunities for young people as a participant or supporter at lyric.co.uk/support-us
Wherever you are in the country, there are a plenty of pantomimes to choose from, so make sure to support your local theatre and find your festive spirit!
If you live in London – particularly if you’re near West London – make sure to support the Lyric’s Aladdin! You’re guaranteed a great night out for all the family. Plus, if you fancy seeing it in January, you can get tickets in our New Year Sale.