Aladdin is a big, traditional show, full of humour and opulently
designed by Terry Parsons, who does panto sparkle better than anybody
else. It has in Gerard Kelly a wonderful talent, who knows how to work
an audience, extracting from a scene every last drop of humour and pathos
in equal measure.
Kelly has 20 years of experience while dame Karen
Dunbar is fairly new to the panto game. She is an effective Widow Twankey
though perhaps needs to engage with the audience more. She seemed more at
ease in the second half even though her hilarious Lady Gaga outfit looked
decidedly uncomfortable. There is solid support from panto veteran John
Ramage, a deliciously evil Abanazar in Gavin Mitchell and a terrific
performance from newcomer Nicola Roy as So Shy.
There is an exhibition in the theatre's foyer presenting the history of pantomime in
Scotland and Grande Dame Stanley Baxter is quoted as stressing the paramount importance of the story. Aladdin boasts one of the stronger plots
Bob Black's script occasionally loses sight of both the importance of explaining the story clearly to its young audience and giving it a local flavour.
Like the Ugly Sisters' feet in Cinderella, songs tend to be
shoe-horned into pantomimes, but can still be used theatrically to
underline a moment. The choice of music is on the whole
disappointing, although a big audience reaction is achieved from a comedy number written by the much
missed variety star Jack Milroy.
Despite these reservations, this Aladdin is very entertaining and
manages to hold true to the traditions while appealing to a younger
audience immersed in pop culture and High School Musical. It will be
interesting to see how The King's responds next year to the John
BarrowmanAladdin in the larger, though decidedly less beautiful,