FROM THE moment the first bars of Mamma Mia by Abba are heard and the curtain rises, the Thameside Theatre’s pantomime of 2018, Aladdin is an absolute feast of fun and surprises. A feel-good pantomime that reaches out and appeals to everyone of all ages.
This reviewer went to see it on Thursday afternoon, when the audience comprised of the very youngest pupils from Harris Academy Primary, clients of Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions (TLS) and students from Barking College. We got a hunch that the good ladies of Barking College came to see reality TV star, Dan Osborne. They did not go away disappointed.
You got the feeling that the cast re-calibrate their show according to the audience and so this was a gentle, feel-good, cheeky performance full of warmth and humour.
Aladdin was played by Benjamin Saysell who gave a warm, personable performance of the central character. It is always hard to play Aladdin as everyone around you are the caricatures and have the the scene stealing lines but Benjamin acquitted himself really well. The same can be said of Princess Jasmine played by Anoush Kendrick, who is delightful.
Thurrock favourite, Luke Coldham played Widow Twankey. Luke puts in a wonderful carryonesque performance as the Widow, throws in a few ad-libs and is the heartbeat of the panto. He also has a number of great outfits, which is our first hat-tip to the wardrobe staff who produced a dazzling array of outfits. We were especially struck by the police outfits!
TOWIE and Celebrity Big Brother star Dan Osborne does not disappoint. An adept member of the cast, he is very calm and assured as the Genie. His performance is a bit like his career. He takes very opportunity and performs manfully. Plus, not a bad singer at all.
The same can be said of Ben Jardine, who is a delightful Wishee Washee. Infact it is important to mention all the main actors in the cast as this panto does not have a single weak link. From the warm and charming Slave of the Ring to the devilishy wicked Ababanzar played by Richard Burman they are vital in the panto
If we are taking about scene stealers then we have to say that the Emperor played by Jordan Laidley raises a number of laughs as he breaks into street slang.
The Thameside Theatre is a tight stage and so the music numbers have to be faultless. It is a great credit to the directors and every dancers from the Polka Dot Dancers, the principal dancers and the cast that they perform a number of great set pieces. The Greatest Showman was not only a showstopper in the middle of the panto but a terrific piece of choreography.
In this reviewers opinion the most impressive number was the magic carpet duet where Aladdin and Princess Jasmine sing A Million Dreams whilst the carpet floats across the stage. The lighting and the special effects come together to produce the highlight of the pantomime.
The 12-days-of Christmas is a prop-tactic opportunity to get the audience involved as well as for the cast to let off steam. If you want to see flying toilet rolls then this is your panto!
This is also a great panto is you want to release your inner Baby Shark. The kiddies from Harris Primary particularly enjoyed this.
Well done to Polka Dot Productions and the whole cast for an entertaining, heart warming and enjoyable pantomime. We heartily recommend.
Aladdin is on until January 6th.
Full detail at www.thurrock.gov.uk/theatre