Kicking off on National Panto Day, the Sunderland Empire’s Aladdin is a real festive treat.
Packed to the rafters with corny jokes, silly puns and poptastic songs, the fairytale adventure is fun for all the family.
It follows poor Aladdin (Matthew Dale) who is desperately in love with Princess Jasmine (Leanne Kyte) but banished from speaking to her, or even looking at her, by her father the Emperor (Oliver Jacobson).
Meanwhile, evil sorcerer Abanazar (Terence Maynard) is searching for a magic lamp that will give him unlimited power and tricks Aladdin into going deep into a scary cave to find it for him.
It’s a well known tale that was fabulously brought to life on the Empire’s stage.
Dynamic duo Wishee Washee (Derek Moran) and horny dame Widow Twankey (Ian Good) stole the show for me. The hilarious pair had the entire audience chuckling throughout the show with their silly antics.
From their fabulously original messy scene, and Wishee’s pet dog Tiddles (don’t ask why he’s called that), to their crazily-chaotic rendition of 12 Days of Christmas with Pc Pong (Tom Whalley), they were incredibly entertaining.
Maynard was delightfully wicked as the baddie and Alison Hammond gave a glitzy performance as the Slave of the Ring, who pined after the Genie of the Lamp (Alex Green).
Pop hits like Shut Up and Dance, Uptown Funk and Bills got the party atmosphere going and Aladdin and Jasmine’s duet of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud was a sweet moment. It must be the panto duet of the year though – this is the third show I’ve seen it in.
A scene packed with chocolatey puns was a real Turkish Delight (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself) and the baffling tongue twisters the script was laden with made for utterly impressive performances from cast members.
The flying carpet was the big moment that everyone was waiting for and it looked brilliant as Aladdin flew around the world, and even outer space, but my niece was terribly upset that he didn’t take Jasmine for a ride. She said he was selfish.
A real heart-melting moment came when four youngsters from the audience were brought up on stage to join Wishee in a sing-along to I Am The Music Man. The kids were just adorable as they mimed playing the piano, drums, guitar and trumpet.
The audience – I think, particularly a man in the front row who won Widow Twankey’s affections – really felt part of the show, and it was a great one to be part of.
Aladdin runs at the Sunderland Empire until January 3. Click here to book tickets.