Panto Review: Aladdin - Grand Opera House York ✭✭½


Grand Opera House York

22 December 2016: A new production company has taken over the annual pantomime offering at the Grand Opera House this year, and it's a welcome start with much potential to come over the  forthcoming years. Three Bears Productions has said on its posters it is "York's Biggest Panto Ever" - well I beg to differ - last years offering at the Railway Museum from the Theatre Royal will take some beating, receiving rave reviews from all over the UK.

The set is of a standard affair, the usual array of front cloths, often badly lit make up most of the scenery. The costumes make up for this though, the dames costumes standing out with dazzling effect at times. Widow Twankey is nicely portrayed by Steve Wickenden, who unfortunately isn't on the posters for the show, and is one of the biggest stars of the night with his comic timing and stage presence.

Stalwarts Frazer Hines and Debbie McGee are on board this year as The Emperor of China and The Lady of the Ring respectively. They both bring humour and laughs to each role effortlessly, the audience warming to them instantly.

Stuart Wade plays two characters, Wishee Washee and the Genie of the Lamp, and also directs this year.. His rapport and energy with the crowd is boundless, and the kids who come on stage at the end of the show to do tongue twisters are hilarious. Carl Tracey as Aladdin is the typical all singing all dancing washboard stomached lead role, playing opposite Suzanne Shaw as Princess Yasmine who has a good voice in some of the singing numbers.

Every panto needs a good baddie, and on this occasion Paul Sinha from TV's The Chase tries his best. The ensemble of dancers and young performers do a good job with the choreography, and there are numerous local jokes and references throughout. A magical carpet ride looks visually stunning, and this is the highlight of the show, the audience on the edge of their seats whilst Aladdin soars above the stalls.

But alongside the nice visuals, the show is let down from less than average lighting and sound, the band are good, but the sound is tinny and muffled at times. The set is calling out to be lit from all angles, but it isn't which is a real shame. It was an entertaining show none the less, but average at best. Let's hope the creative team can muster up even better ideas for next year, it will be a welcome return if and when they do.

Two and a half Stars ✭✭½

Aladdin runs at Grand Opera House York until 1st January 2017