The Birmingham Hippodrome Pantomime annually pulls out all of the stops to create the most spectacular show. This year they bring the story of Aladdin to the stage, packed full of famous faces it is a show that is inevitably a hit.
Every year the set gets bigger and better and this year the extravagant staging did not disappoint. Draped in sparkles the magical story takes place in the town of Peking.
The show opens in Abanazar’s lair, a rather chilling start to the production as the use of lighting and sound creates a terrifying atmosphere. Echoing his plot against Aladdin, Marti Pellow plays the role of evil panto villain Abanazar. Admittedly he is the best pantomime villain I’ve seen in a performance, he sent chills up my spine when he entered on stage bellowing his hate for Aladdin and his plan to win the lamp.
Dazzling in over nine different costumes, Julian Clary takes to the stage as The Slave Of The Ring. He provides many innuendos leaving the adults of the audience in stitches, sometimes on the edge of inappropriate but something only Clary could get away with. A highlight of his performance being his jazzy rendition of the Beyonce number Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).
Also mirroring Julian Clary’s old-school camp style is Andrew Ryan who plays Widow Twanky, Ryan perfects the panto classic of audience participation, hilariously picking on a particular audience member throughout the show. Despite being the highly camp mother of Aladdin and Wishee Washee, he doesn’t over do it and become sickly. His balance of the role is exemplary, keeping the audience on their toes, his spurts of humour have the audience roaring with laughter.
Returning to the stage for his third year is Matt Slack as Wishee Washee, Matt is clearly the star of the show, he exudes charisma and his effortless comedy timing always leaves the audience laughing out loud. What makes Matt Slack the king of panto is his natural style. Despite enduring an incredibly sore throat last night due to an infection, even with a croaky voice he lost none of his hilarity and personality. Every year Matt Slack gets better and better and I can’t wait to see him as the star in Dick Whittington at the Birmingham Hippodrome next Christmas.
No pantomime would be complete without it’s prince and princess, Lee Mead plays Aladdin exquisitely, his splendid vocals are impeccable. He breaks into song performing Any Dream Will Do and even with the hilarious comments from Julian Clary during the number, it is a musical highlight of the show. Performing alongside him Emily Shaw plays the charismatic and ever so cheesy Princess Jasmine, she is excellent as the beaming princess. Similarly Landi Oshinowo exudes sass as the feisty Empress of China she belts out numerous musicals numbers in the show and her vocals are phenomenal.
As a QDOS pantomime in addition to the star-studded cast are elaborate special effects, I was mesmerised by the magic carpet that flies out into the audience. The children were in awe as we travelled through Egypt with the use of fabulous 3D special effects, clearly a hit with the children as they screamed and giggled as rats and spiders flew out into the audience.
The live Birmingham Hippodrome orchestra really lift the production, musical director Robert Willis puts together an outstanding musical performance, making the whole production feel even more magical. Likewise the ensemble give a marvellous performance packed full of electric energy and slick movements, exceptionally choreographed by Karen Bruce.
Aladdin has it all, from acrobatics to magic, 3D effects to a flying magic carpet ride. Not to mention the astounding cast as their terrific chemistry with one another creates a side-splitting pantomime that is bound to leave you crying with laughter.
The Birmingham Hippodrome have done it again, a must-see show this Christmas that will be adored by both the children and adults of Birmingham.
Aladdin is on until the 31st of January and tickets are available here.