Review: ‘Aladdin’ at the Aylesbury Waterside
I’m just back from Aylesbury Waterside Theatre and onto my computer to give you my hot-off-the-panto press verdict on Aladdin starring EastEnders‘ Michelle Collins and TOWIE‘s Jasmin Walia. To put it succinctly – because I’m knackered! – I think you’ll love it. There, shall I go to bed now? What do you mean no?!
Most pantos cover all the predicable bases of including a couple of strong singers, a couple of strong actors (oh, a bridge too far?) a cross-dresser, a token local performer and core of under-drilled ,over-extended backing dancers. This year’s line up at the Waterside pretty much towed that line, with La Voix (Britain’s Got Talent) and Danny Colligan (Book of Mormon) as Aladdin sucking up most of the songs, Nicholas Pound as the baddie and the bloke who played Pongo the policeman (sorry, I’ve left my programme at the theatre – doh) were probably the most proficient actors, though La Voix was quite the pro in this too. Meanwhile, Aylesbury comedian Andy Collins was in danger of stealing the show every time he came on stage, even though in his sixth year of performing at this Aylesbury venue his patter is comfier than a pair of Uggs.
One thing to applaud in this panto is that both halves were funny. Often you get a brilliant opening act and then a sluggish finale or vice versa, but this one rollicked along all the way through, and my kids, who had rocked up at the theatre being vile, grumpy and totally ungrateful for the continued wonderful experiences and sacrifices I continue to make for them on a daily bloody basis I tell you! (sorry, I just lost myself for a moment) suddenly became joyful and giggly and good-natured. Even my 14 year old, reluctant to come along at all, ended the evening thanking me for getting the tickets, and I didn’t have to bribe him to be nice or anything.
The headlines? Michelle Collins was game for a laugh, but a bit oversqueaky at times for my taste, hamming up the Essex-style Fairy without being troubled by the faintest whiff of nuance or comic timing. Jasmin Walia is sweet as the Princess, pushing out her lines effortlessly and knocking out a couple of songs with a very pleasant voice. There was one hell of an acrobatic dancer as the Genie of the Lamp (below) – he looked incredible and had a very pleasant habit of taking his top off. His singing wasn’t up to much – I’m not quite sure if he managed to hook a single note – but I think the audience would have forgiven him almost anything.
A variation on the now familiar 12 days of Christmas song, repeated year after year and Andy Collins’ big calling card, kept it fresh(ish) but the two funniest bits of the evening were, firstly, a very clever set piece of comedy from La Voix, Andy Collins and the policeman whose name I can’t remember about three girls, Woo, What and I Don’t Know. I won’t spoilt it for you but they must have taken hours and hours to get that one right. The other highlight was an exceptionally well-acted piece of visual comedy between Voix and Collins involving some ballet, bad wigs and balloons. I was crying with laughter at that one.
So all in all, a great success – fun for the kids, gratifyingly smutty for the adults, and also at two and a half hours from beginning to end, not overlong for smaller kids on an evening. A big Muddy panto pleaser.
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