Genie of the ring Sceherazade (competently played by Kimberley Blake) quips “you get your money’s worth with this show” and this year’s production of Aladdin at The Bristol Hippodrome certainly is quite a spectacle! It’s a typical evening of family entertainment for those who see pantomime as an essential part of Christmas.
Qdos has gone to town on effects with some unexpected additions to the traditional story – think giant gorilla, giant snake, adorable dancing pandas, a Bristolian genie, a 3D sequence, plenty of smoke, pyrotechnics and a couple of elephants thrown in for good measure.
For children the stand out effect will be the flying carpet, hovering over the auditorium with Aladdin and Wishee Washee hanging on for dear life!
Undoubtedly the star of the show is comedian Joe Pasquale who, as Aladdin’s hapless brother Wishee Washee, does a reasonable job to keep the show moving along. He delivers a funny, natural performance although his attempts to get the audience in his ‘gang’ feel half-hearted. And disappointingly, much of the physical comedy seems to be crammed into the very early scenes leaving the show a bit flat, particularly after the interval.
David Robbins as Widow Twanky achieves most audience reaction with her vast wardrobe of outfits and quick changes and she is a good partner to Pasquale in the comedy songs. Everyone in the audience particularly enjoyed their rendition of “If I were not in pantomime something else I’d rather be” as they offer chosen professions as varied as ballerina, policeman and pancake chef.
Hayley Tamaddon as Princess Jasmine was surprisingly assured in her singing vocals and tried hard to give her character some dynamic range within the limited dialogue. Alexis Gerred as Aladdin brings some good energy into his scenes.
The disappointment of this show is Marti Pellow as Abanazar. Playing the villain should have been a gift with so much scope to rouse the audience to fever pitch booing. Sadly, his performance lacked any element of threat or menace. He was unable to maintain a consistent accent, his stage presence was inconsequential and he was barely reprieved with his singing.
In spite of the special effects you're left feeling something is lacking in this production.
That said, the draw of a well-known cast, plenty of colour, comedy songs and clever use of special effects will probably appeal to families who enjoy a good dose of traditional pantomime entertainment.