Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Review 7: Bath Chronicle

Aladdin at Bath's Theatre Royal: A parenting guide to this year's panto and what the kids thought  

Nancy Connolly  December 12, 2016


The pantomime season kicked off with a bang at the Theatre Royal on Friday night, with more children than ever in the audience booing, hissing but most of all thoroughly enjoying this year's offering, Aladdin.
There was a great buzz outside the theatre as the show which kicks off Christmas for many families was about to open.
Queues of people with young children, some in fancy dress, gathered for what was a very lively performance by this year's colourful cast.

Is it any good?
Yes, it is really, really good. It looks really polished and professional, with wonderful sets, lighting and music. The dancing by the young members of the Dorothy Coleborn School of dance is better than ever, especially the little dancers.
All the great elements of panto are there, the handsome young Aladdin (played by children's TV star Mark Rhodes), the dark and devilish Abanazar (Bill Ward) and the beautiful Princess Jasmine (Gemma Naylor).
But best of all is Wishee Washee played by Bath's own Jon Monie, his 15th panto at the Theatre Royal. He loves the role and is completely at home on stage, the kids loved him.
Nick Wilton as the Widow Twankey is also hilarious, and they loved his ridiculous dress changes and dirty jokes.

It's really entertaining and there's so much interaction with the audience.

What the kids thought…
Kristian and Isabella Goldaniga from Camden, Bath, who both attend St Stephen's Primary School in Lansdown, thoroughly enjoyed the panto.
Kristian, 9, said: "It was brilliant, really funny, it wasn't boring at all. My favourite character was Wishee Washee (Jon Monie), he was so funny, I loved all his jokes and when he was doing the fighting and saying 'Hi Ya!'. I loved the colourful costumes as well, but I didn't like the policeman because he was creepy. I think it was even better than last year. I like the panto 'cos you don't have to sit quiet and listen, you can shout and laugh out loud and nobody tells you off, it's great fun. I think they should throw more sweets though, they only threw a few and it's not fair on all the children who don't get any."
Isabella, 5, said: "My favourite bit was the princess bit when Princess Jasmine was in the beautiful sparkly dress, and all the dancers were all dressed up and they were all sparkly and their makeup was lovely. I liked the princess because she had long hair. I was a bit scared before it started, sometimes I don't like the bad guys, but it was okay 'cos there were lots of other children there and I just screamed when it was loud so I was okay. I loved the music and lights. I think they should throw out more sweets as well, that would be really good."

Which characters will my kids love?
Both Kristian and Isabella absolutely loved Wishee Washee (Jon Monie). He has a great rapport with the kids in the audience.

Isabella really loved Princess Jasmine (Gemma Naylor) because of her beautiful, sparkly dress and because she had long hair.
Are there any jokes for the parents? 
There are lots of references to current issues like Brexit, Donald Trump and UKIP which tend to go over the children's heads but the adults enjoyed them, and there are also some naughty, lewd jokes aimed the adults in the audience, and they all got a laugh.

How long does it last?
Quite long at two and a half hours (including an all important interval and wee break). Evening performances can be a bit late for little ones, starting at 7pm and ending around 9.30pm.

Will small children be able to sit through the whole show?
Yes, Kristian and his five year old sister Isabella were not bored for a single minute, and they are a lively pair. They were completely entertained throughout, with no dull bits and they cheered and screamed at the stage when asked to, completely interacting with the characters. There's great freedom in panto for kids, they don't feel restricted at all. It was noisy though!

Can I take my own snacks?
Yes. Most of the children brought their own drinks and snacks, which can save a few pounds. The kids loved the fact they were allowed eat during the performance, and there is ice cream, drinks and snacks available at the theatre. Kristian and Isabella brought jelly sweets and a drink, they were not hungry as we went for a pizza beforehand.

So how much is it going to cost me and is it worth the cash?
It's not a cheap night out, but then again it is just once a year and it is a live, professional performance and a great way to introduce the kids to theatre. Kristian and Isabella loved the fact they didn't have to sit quiet in their seats, and could laugh, joke, eat and scream at the actors on stage without being told off.
Tickets cost £9 - £34.50 (Family & group discounts available on selected performances) (Booking fee applies: £2.50 for transactions of £15 or over).

Are there any tickets left?
Yes, but some performances are very busy so you are advised to book as soon as possible, especially if you are a family and want to sit together. To book ring the box office on 01225 448844 or visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk.

Our family rating
The panto is a great night out for all the family, it is light hearted, good fun for all ages and is worth the money if you can afford it. Aladdin is a really colourful, enjoyable and entertaining show with great music, dancing, jokes, costumes, sets and comic characters, everything you expect in a panto. It's a great Christmas tradition in Bath and elsewhere and it's good to support it if possible.

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