The 12 Days of Christmas will never seem the same once you’ve experienced the mad hat capers of Widow Twankey and her comedy cohorts at the Millennium Forum’s 15th annual Christmas panto, ‘Aladdin’.
A host a familiar faces return in a cast whose energy and stagecraft illuminate more than two hours of well known chart hits, superb choreography, dazzling special effects and some superb one-liners which more often than not fly over the heads of the kids and hit the adults right between the eyes.
Of course, being Panto, this isn’t quite the Aladdin you remember from Disney but perhaps Walt missed a trick by not including William Caulfield’s ‘Widow Twankey’ who (in her own words) has a face that could cure a Peeping Tom! Alongside Gerard McCabe’s as her son, ‘Wishee Washee’ and bumbling ‘PC Pong’ (Gary Crossan) the trio’s physical comedy and razor sharp wit had an audience who ranged in age from two to 72 crying with laughter.
Isolating a highlight, it’s difficult to choose between the aforementioned ‘12 Days of Christmas’ song and the hapless PC Pong’s first visit to Twankey’s laundry which sees him leave only half the man he used to be but keep your eye out for some impressive magic inside the Palace.
The villain’s role is filled once again by Kevin Lynch who has revels as Abanazar, the man the kids will love to hate. With just enough menace to keep the little ones booing for all their worth, Abanazar is a great foil for Mikey Jay Heath’s all singing, all dancing Aladdin. The title role may have to play second fiddle in the comedy stakes but alongside Catriona McFeely’s streetwise ‘Princess Jasmine’ the duo deliver some memorable music moments and Aladdin’s magic carpet journey is a superb combination of song and spectacle.
Wishee Washee and PC Pong attempt to plunder the show’s musical thunder as well with their version of the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars hit ‘Uptown Funk’ but Johanna Johnston’s ‘Slave of the Ring’ manages to upstage them with a couple of great songs.
The whole show is backed up by an impressive ensemble that includes current Miss Derry, Demi O’Hara, and a number of potential dance stars of the future!
But, as panto does, the show hinges on comedy and with Caulfield’s Twankey it’s in safe hands though not necessarily confined to the stage so be careful what seats you purchase!
Over the last few years the Forum Panto has become a real highlight of my family’s Christmas and this year’s offering can make it a staple ingredient of yours.