dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
It's panto season with a fast-paced and fun Aladdin
It's panto time, oh yes it is, and Birmingham's Blue Orange Theatre is well into the festive spirit with the Christmas classic Aladdin. In true panto tradition, it's full of larger-than-life characters, terrible gags, song and dance routines and a wedding – or two.
Written and produced by James Williams, who recently took over as artistic director and chief executive of the Jewellery Quarter theatre, this Aladdin is fast-paced and funny. And while it may not have big star names or a massive cast, the actors, who are current or former students of Midlands Academy of Musical Theatre, give it their all, bringing bags of enthusiasm to the production.
As always in panto, everyone loves the baddy and Tom Parkinson is a lusciously evil Abanazar. Opening the show with a bang, the audience laps up his every scene as he shares his dastardly plans to own the magic lamp and its genie. His show-stopping moment is a rendition of The Who's Pinball Wizard - with a few lyric changes.
On the other team, Will Wheeler's Wishee Washee is the audience favourite as he plays the comedian. Whether it's urging members of the audience to help with the laundry, singing daft songs or competing in a dance-off with Abanazar while dressed as a woman, you can't help but love him.
Amelia Cameron-Padmore is a no-nonsense Genie with plenty of comic twists – not least her impressions of a flight attendant and pilot on board the magic carpet. Lewis Collier-Smith is an earnest Aladdin, determined to win the heart of Princess Jasmin, played with plenty of charm by Rachel Hoskins.
Directed by Tomas Wolstenholme and choreographed by Cici Howells, the production has all the ingredients for a magical Aladdin – including a flying carpet. It's also packed full of familiar songs such as A Whole New World, Shut Up and Dance and Don't Stop Me Now. Plus there's a finale rendition of If I Were Not Upon This Stage Something Else I'd Like To Be.
A lot of work has gone into this Aladdin and yet Blue Orange is only staging it for four nights – a really short run for a panto. The team are clearly hoping it will grow in the future though as they've already announced next year's panto Cinderella will run for 12 nights.