Well here we are at the start of the pantomime season again. When I was asked to review this show I braced myself and prepared for the usual run of the mill pantomime, littered with little known stars and lots of children shouting, screaming and crying. By the time you get to my age you feel that you’ve seen so many pantomimes that nothing is going to be different. I was wrong!
I spent a wonderful evening at the Bristol Hippodrome last night and went away feeling invigorated and having thoroughly enjoyed the show. The production keeps very much to the traditional story and contains all the much loved characters. The audience is asked to participate in several of the scenes and songs, but this pantomime had a real freshness about it.
Director David Siebert has done a sterling job keeping the story traditional while adding in several touches to bring it up to date. For example, the Peking Police Squad is played by that wonderful dance troupe – Flawless. They are absolutely terrific and while doing amazing things with their sequences they also manage to portray the humour of the piece.
The music is well chosen too - mostly contemporary songs, but all recognizable and appropriate. Malcolm Forbes-Peckham – musical director – is brilliant and his performance on the main keyboard enhances the show.
Aladdin, played by Chris Thatcher, and Princess Jasmine (Zoe George) provide the very pretty love interest, and seem to have much greater roles than in previous pantomimes that I have seen. Thatcher makes a fine foil for his “brother” Wishee Washee – brilliantly played by Andy Ford. Ford is well known to Bristol audiences, and has rightly become a firm favourite of the panto season.
Graham Kent as Widow Twankey makes an excellent dame. Again, he has just the right touch with the audience so that you never feel uncomfortable with this man dressed as a woman. He makes the perfect counterpart to David Roper’s evil Abanazer. The cast is well rounded off with David Whitworth as the Emperor – played in true regal style, Joe Speare making a fantastic Genie of the Ring and the lovely Carol McGiffin from ITV’s Loose Women as the Genie of the Lamp.
I must also mention Chris Nelson who plays Major Pong – head of the Peking Police Squad, and is also assistant director.
Costumes and sets are lovely – full of colour and sparkle giving a great feeling of opulence and fun. The sets take us from The Temple at Thebes to Peking Market Place and Widow Twankey’s Laundry - where we get all the classic ingredients of pantomime, from soap suds to a mangle – I won’t give any secrets away!
This is a great evening’s entertainment and you can happily take anyone from 5 to 105 and they will all enjoy it. Suffice it to say that when encouraged to do so the entire audience seems happy to stand up and sing silly songs with even sillier actions.
This show only runs until 6 January 2013 – so be sure not to miss it – get your ticket now.