Saturday, 19 December 2015

We went to watch a panto.. Oh no you didn't... Oh yes we did

I've always been a big fan of traditions associated with national holidays. When my sisters were little I used to take them to see a Christmas show every year whether it was a movie or a pantomime. It has been a bit hit and miss with triumphs like Elf and then Jingle All the Way (not so much). I took them and my mum to watch a pantomime called Christmas Cat and the Pudding Pirates when I was at uni then for a few years we used to frequent the Albany Theatre in Deptford for the Bubble Theatre pantomime as I had an (unrequited) crush on the dame. I know it's truly sad.

Aladdin (Luke Roberts) and Princess Jasmine (Jen Pringle)

Anyway, the point of this background is that I am now introducing this tradition to Big Boy and last year he went to watch his first panto with the school and I was so proud as I sat next to him and he followed the story and songs. This year he's been to two shows and I was delighted to be able to take him to watch Aladdin at the Churchill Theatre Bromley as it really is a proper family show. It's set in Old Peking near Or Ping Ton (think about it) and has an impressive range of actors in a show that is packed with songs and laughs. For a start Widow Twankey is played by Bobby Crush - he of the piano and sparkling smile - and Princess Jasmine is Jen Pringle of Milkshake fame. Parents will remember the former and pre-schoolers the latter. If you're a fan of Eastenders you will be delighted to see Scott Maslin as the evil Abanazer - he loves the boos he gets from the audience and makes a fabulous baddie. He really does steal the show, but Luke Roberts is brilliant as Aladdin and does have a pretty great number of his own with Jess Robinson who plays the genie of the ring.

Scott Maslin is a snarling Abanazer 

It is a well known story with some recognisable current songs and silly jokes that will appeal to adults as well as the silliness that makes the children howl with laughter. The formula of a great panto is pretty much infallible. There is comedy, traditional songs, plenty of jokes and slapstick routines that make everyone laugh so much. In this production there is a flying carpet sequence that has to be seen to be believed and the night we went there were so many children laughing out loud it was lovely to hear. We took one of Big Boy's school friends with us and they both had a great time - including meeting Wishee Washee (Mark James) after the show for a photo. It is a pretty long show at 2 and a half hours, but the boys did really well and the pace of the show kept them entertained. I'm sure the half time ice cream helped too.

Widow Twankey(Bobby Crush) takes no nonsense from Aladdin (Luke Roberts) 

Aladdin is on at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley until 3rd January and there are two shows daily. If you are taking small children be aware that there is a £5 charge for a booster seat to use in the theatre.

To book you can go here: book tickets

I interviewed some of the cast for my radio show which you can hear on the podcast.

PC Pong (Charlie Guest) with Widow Twankey, Princess Jasmine, Aladdin and Ababnazer

Disclosure: We were invited to attend the press evening of Aladdin. 

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