Panto Review: Aladdin at Sunderland Empire

Panto Review: Aladdin at Sunderland Empire

Review by Mandy Charlton

My second panto of the season, Aladdin at the Sunderland Empire, we all know the story, it’s been immortalised in so many ways on stage and screen and you know when you go to Panto you’ll see perhaps something slightly different but that was not the case with this production.

Aladdin follows the story to the letter and I’d say if you’re looking for the nostalgia of a traditional panto then this is the one for you.  Top billing went to Gary Lucy of Hollyoaks fame who sadly seemed to be struggling with some kind of vocal problem.  Probably the weeks of shouting at the audience as he plays Abanazer the evil villain.

Before I go on, I want to say that the kids in the audience last night had a riotous time, they absolutely loved each and every moment and I’d say if you want to go to a safe, predictable, nostalgic, traditional panto then Aladdin is the one for you.  The company clearly have talents but the production values were just slightly off for me.  Whilst I hate to compare pantos I had previously seen the absolutely mind-blowingly magical Cinderella at the Theatre Royal, I probably should have seen them the other way around!!

One of the great things about Sunderland’s panto is that the tickets start at £13 so you really can take the whole family and I’m sure as a Christmas activity it’s going to be just the ticket for a great festive day out.

I must say that the highlight of the performance for me was at the end of the first act when there was a musicals mashup of “The Wizard and I” from Wicked and “You and Me (but mostly me” from Book of Mormon” guessing the kids didn’t recognise that one though.

To surmise, I did have a lovely evening, I laughed and sniggered but there were no off-book moments and it sometimes felt just a little stilted, nothing really went wrong and maybe I’m judging it too harshly because again I’ll say the kids seemed to have an amazing time and Christmas, well it’s all about the kids, isn’t it?

My shoutouts to the stars of the show were Miss Rory who played my favourite ever version of Widow Twanky, full of camp and innuendo but the heart of a stage-perfect professional performer and an absolute credit to the north of England, we are lucky to have her.

Liam Morris also shone as the genie of the lamp, he can dance, he can sing, he can wiggle his muscles covered in glitter, what more could you want from a panto performer?

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