The Mayflower Theatre’s annual Christmas Panto’s are always spectacular. With big name stars, crowd pleasing songs and lots of laughs, they are a highlight of the festive season.
Playing until 3rd January 2016, their latest family treat is Aladdin. With Blue’s Duncan James in the title role, it tells the familiar story with a magic carpet and powerful genie, but with an exciting twist. Some scenes are presented in 3D, meaning that once prompted to put glasses on, you are immersed into the world like never before. Unlike some movies where the extra dimension just adds depth to the environment, here the audience will be ducking and screaming in delight.
Joe Pasquale plays the squeaky comic relief Wishee Washee, Ceri Dupree is the fabulous Widow Twankey, Holly Brewer plays Princess Jasmine, and Cavin Cornwall transforms into a completely deadpan sorcerer called Abananzar.
Regular theatre-goers may have seen another production of Aladdin at the King’s Theatre in South Sea in 2014, albeit with Blue’s Antony Costa in the lead role and far lower production values (including none of the fantastic 3D).
Duncan may not have the strongest voice in the band but possibly the best physique, as revealed during a laundry scene. Some of the jokes you will likely have heard before (and a few of the songs you’d wish you hadn’t), but there’s plenty to keep the family entertained. Audience participation is highly encouraged too and added laughs are provided by Joe Pasquale, who often deviates from the script for improvised fun.
The brightly-coloured sets, elaborate costumes and visual effects are all of a high calibre, and the 3D sets a new benchmark. While not quite rivalling Brian Conley’s 5-star Cinderella, I’m delighted to report that The Mayflower once again hosts the best Panto in the south.