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Aladdin (Dancehouse, Manchester)

The Dancehouse Theatre’s family pantomime returns

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Following on from last year's pantomime success, The Dancehouse Theatre, home of the Northern Ballet School, are back and keen to grant Manchester a Christmas wish by staging timeless classic Aladdin this year.

This pantomime is a perfect opportunity for the company to showcase their dancing talents, featuring many different dance styles from bhangra to ballet, all are skilled from the teeny tiny jazz dancers through to the feisty and rhythmic crew of street dancers.

The Dancehouse Theatre and Eight Freestyle poke fun at the expected pantomime tradition, managing to put their own stamp on the magical middle eastern adventure. The genie of the evil Abanazer's diamond ring was a bolshy Liverpudlian, which ran well with the Mancunian crowd and the final fight scene between Aladdin and Abanazer played out with lightsabers, giving the nod to all of the Star Wars fans in the audience.

Although most of the energetic dance numbers were choreographed well and the popular chart music choice was a hit with the audience, there were moments in the story where the action seemed stunted and the audience were left trying to make sense of an empty stage.

There were also some problems with the sound quality throughout the show - occasionally my ear drums were rattling as the treble was booming and just like Widow Twankey sang in the show "All About That Bass", some adjustments did need to be made.

The cast took every opportunity to interact with their eager audience by inviting people on to the stage and encouraging all to join in with the customary pantomime sing-a-long. The use of gauze to create a starry night as Princess Jasmine and Aladdin were suspended on a magic carpet was a highlight as was the amusing version of "Take me Out" to find a suitable husband for the Princess.

The Dancehouse Theatre and Eight Freestyle certainly succeeded in entertaining the whole family, with plenty of belly laughs, Christmas sparkle and not a reality TV star in sight. Aladdin runs at just over two hours long and with ticket prices starting at a mere £30 for a family of five, it really is excellent festive value for money.

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