The story of Aladdin does not make the most interesting of pantomime stories. In fact, watching beautiful dancers gyrate around Abanazar is enough to irritate the feminists in the audience. But generally, First Family Entertainment do an OK job of creating a family friendly show.
This pantomime veers away from serious smut, casual bigotry and the racial stereotyping that have been part of pantomimes past – thinking of the recent Dick Whittington with Barbara Windsor featuring a six foot phallic sausage and jokes about Poles even before the interval.
It’s Carol McGiffin’s first stab at panto. She is role sharing Genie of the Lamp with Bristolian Josie Gibson. While it’s clear Carol isn’t an actress, she does make a valiant effort. Occasionally, her own personality does shine through the primness. All she needs to do now is relax into the role and have some fun with it.
Graham Kent as Widow Twankey is good and David Roper as Abanazar suitably nasty.
Chris Thatcher – as Aladdin – is not a household name, but gives a good performance. He manages to claim the best scene of the show travelling to Egypt on a magical flying carpet.
Zoe George doesn’t have much to get her teeth into as princess Jasmine. But she looks pretty and sings like a bird, which is about as much as the part demands.
Flawless – as the Peking Police – inject their own special brand of energy into the panto, keeping the pace moving and holding the audience’s interest. Their much lauded street dance is good and well marketed. But the style is not original and the quality not a patch on various contemporary ballet companies who have done it so much better in the past.
However, the set is perfect, the costumes dazzling and the entire cast put on an enthusiastic and energetic performance. The musical numbers are fun and the running time does not outstay its welcome. The show keeps its pace going well without flagging.
Despite the glitter, glitter and yet more glitter, there is a certain magic lacking. While a good pantomime shouldn’t be reliant on a ‘star’ name, a Christmas show on this scale does lack a certain something without a big personality involved.
Aladdin is very much pantomime by numbers. It ticks all the boxes well. But it lacks the wow factor that Bristol deserved to have seen in the Hippodrome’s centenary year.
Running until Sunday 06 January 2013