Panto Review: Aladdin - New Wimbledon Theatre ✭✭✭



Review by Caroline Cronin

11 Dec 2018: Panto. A British institution that fills you with either joy, or total dread. Qdos Entertainment’s Aladdin at New Wimbledon Theatre falls somewhere in-between.

All of the classic panto tropes are covered, and the majority are executed well. Paul Merton, in his live pantomime debut as Widow Twankey, hams it up with aplomb, and uses his knowledge of the area to drop some brilliantly cutting regionally based jokes. Alongside magician Pete Firman as the comedic Wishee Washee, the pair are the driving force of this production. Firman, it should be noted, is excellent, and expertly wins the audience over with perfect comedic timing (but not quite enough magic for my liking!)

Star casting Lee Ryan as Aladdin appeared somewhat out of his depth in the frenetic environment of panto, quite often looking like a deer-in-headlights. Ryan’s usually- strong vocals aren’t given the chance to shine, and here he was drowned out by the ensemble. The one track that should be in his comfort zone – Blue’s One Love – is performed as a slowed-down duet with Princess Jasmine (Lauren Chia), so even that doesn’t offer him the opportunity to show off those falsetto pipes.

The raised strip of bulbs running across the front of the stage is an odd design choice, restricting the view of the performers’ feet…, which is especially frustrating during the dancing scenes. Mitch Sebastian’s choreography is inoffensive, but work needs to be done on the execution to tighten it up and give it a slicker feel.

The star of this production (aside from Merton and Firman) is the 3D projection that is used throughout. I have seen 3D used in several theatre productions, but none were as effective as the clever designs used here. It’s a clever way to engage a younger audience, and it really elevates the perilous scenes when Aladdin and his troupe take on the villainous Abanazar(a suitably menacing Adam Pearce). 

The special effects in general are impressive, particularly the magic carpet scene, which is complemented beautifully by some stunning vocals from Cassandra McCowan.  McCowan, as Scheherazade, has star quality and a stage presence that lights up all of the scenes that are fortunate enough to have her in them. One to watch.

This isn’t a faultless production, but it’s 2.5 hours of wacky, innuendo-filled fun…and isn’t that what panto is all about? 

Three Stars ✭✭✭

Photos by Craig Sugden



New Wimbledon Theatre 
Sat 8 Dec 2018 – Sun 6 Jan 2019 
0844 871 7646