Review: Aladdin, The Riverfront, Newport
Its difficult for anyone to constantly raise the bar as far as theatre is concerned and probably harder in the medium of pantomime. Year upon year the Riverfront theatre has constantly delivered to audiences of all ages with a galaxy of multi-talented performers at the helm. This year’s production, Aladdin, is no exception. A colourful tale of love, adventure and magic,
Aladdin is already proving to be a high-flyer as far as this year’s top pantomime contenders in South Wales is concerned, performing to packed Newport audiences.
Riverfront favourite, Richard Elis returns with a dual role of Chief of Police, Hanky Panky and genie, Dai The Lamp. There seems to be no stone unturned for Elis as far as panto performances go, having turned his hand to villains, dames and a variety of comedy roles in previous years. Here, he takes the challenge of dual roles in his stride and has grown ups and children alike bellowing with laughter as he leads his Keystone Cops on a search of Widow Twankey’s laundry and later has the audience gasping in wonderment as he makes one of the grandest arrivals a genie could make accompanied by a dragon and dancers performing the rock n roll classic, Great Balls of Fire.
Another returning artiste is Liam Tobin, this year taking on the role of Widow Twankey. Tobin’s Twankey is a winner from the offset, sporting a variety of Barbara Cartland inspired hair-dos and a wardrobe Danny La Rue would have envied. Focusing on an audience member (in Thursday evenings case, a gentleman called Iestyn – “I like him he’ll say yes to anything!”) Tobin promptly assigns him to shout, “Pull out the hanky, Twankey” at every occurrence of high drama, which in turn gets brought down to earth in true Twankey style with a suitably gross-out handkerchief joke.
Many of the other principal actors are new faces on the pantomime scene, but their energy and enthusiasm make them all winners with the audience.
Nickcolia King N’Da is both dashing and playful as Aladdin, who takes to the air on a real magic carpet ride and falls for the beautiful Princess Jasmine played by Jazmin Hudson-Owen. The romantic leads are both captivating in their roles and have great chemistry on stage, particularly when they perform the Clean Bandit hit, No Place I’d Rather Be, of which the audience don’t need to be told twice to clap along and join in.
Aishah Numah is simply magical as everyone’s best friend Wishee Washee. Performing with boundless energy, Numah cartwheels across the stage with a bright and breezy performance. Numah’s energy is put to the test as the classic 12 Days of Christmas sketch is resurrected for this year’s show alongside Elis and Tobin. In true style, certain items vanish from the 12 Days line-up and Numah must keep up with her fellow performers as she keeps her place in the song. All great fun!
Sunny Yeo gives a wonderful performance of the Empress Chinn. A foreboding but elegant character who revels in locking people up and throwing away the key should they even glance upon her daughter. Yeo mellows her characters hard exterior as the show progresses and its particularly fun when she comes face to face with a gorilla in one scene.
The dastardly Abanazer, is played to perfection by Dafydd Gwyn Howells. The audience simply love to hate him as he cunningly attempts to take control of the magic lamp, Princess Jasmine and anything else he so desires. He gets the second act off to a great start by leading the dancers in a performance of Step into The Bad Side and really sells himself as a master in panto villainy.
As mentioned already, there are several popular songs featured in the production including Katy Perry’s Roar! and One Direction’s Live While We’re Young, all arranged brilliantly by Dai Watts while there are strongly choreographed dance routines by Angela Sheppard featuring the ensemble cast and young dancers from Newport.
To top it all off there are dazzling pyrotechnic effects, colourful sets and lots of audience interaction aplenty. with plenty of fun to be had as Richard Elis leads the audience in a singalong of Lung The Fire Lion towards the shows fun climax.
A real magic carpet ride of Christmas fun, Aladdin is a Christmas treat for all the family and a must-see for anyone looking for a traditional trip to the pantomime this Christmas. It runs until January 7, 2018 and tickets are available by visiting newportlive.co.uk/riverfront