Nothing quite screams the start of the British festive season than a good old fashioned pantomime; something that so many of us missed last year!
We were thrilled to have been invited along to Loughborough Town Hall to watch Little Wolf Entertainment’s version of Aladdin, and it certainly did not disappoint.
Firstly, let’s talk about the wonderful venue. First built in 1855, Loughborough Town Hall still holds a lot of its original features of a ballroom and is a a very dominant building right on the main stretch of Loughborough Town Centre. Surrounded by all of the City’s vibrant Christmas lights, it is very easy to get in the Christmassy spirit way before you even set foot in the door; and when you do, your journey towards Agrabah starts, with the walls and hallways being wonderfully decorated like a market place accustomed to Arabia.
Like everyone in Pantoland, Little Wolf Entertainment and all involved suffered with their impromptu year off, and yet it seems to have benefited them massively. The entire set design oozed class, which ranged from both the set itself, but the lighting and effects too. The second those lights dim, you are whisked away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and straight into panto mode.
Abanazar (played by Simon Kingsley), the panto villain, got straight into the swing of the things and came out to a roar of boos and hisses, which he took perfectly in his stride. His piercing eyes glancing over the audience could be seen right from the back row.
Aladdin (Kristian Cunningham) and his sidekick Marmaduke (Olivia Stockdale) made for perfect heroes of the night, and with Aladdin’s charm and incredible vocals, mixed with Marmaduke’s cheekiness and typical slapstick humour there was rarely a scene where you could not help but laugh and smile at their antics.
And then there was Widow Twankey, played by the award-winning James Peake. There was not a scene in which Widow Twankey did not bring out the crowd into a thunder of laughter – from both parents, children and grand-parents alike. His ability to hold the stage, and to dominate every scene was a joy to behold and as Widow Twankeys go, you can see why he won the award for Best Dame at The Great British Pantomime in 2020.
The Sultan (T J Lloyd) and Princes Amirah (Darcy Manning) were incredible additions to this pantomime and brought with them some wonderful humorous moments as well as some very touching moments also.
We have to give special mention to Ella-Jane Thomas, who not played one, not two, but three different roles: Genie / Siri / and PC Brigade. Her humour was very infectious which certainly kept everyone chuckling for hours after.
As pantos go, Little Wolf Entertainments version of Aladdin was a joy to behold. Having taken two children (aged 8 and 10), they was absolutely star struck at the way the whole show was put together, and were beaming from ear to ear when they left. Even for us adults, there was plenty of humour for us to get involved with and plenty of jokes very worth noting down.
Overall, this truly is a must-see pantomime. It holds the right level of cheesy fun in which you would expect from a British Panto; plenty of jeers, cheers laughs, audience participation and cheeky humour which is all done in actually quite a professional and uplifting manner.
If you manage to get yourself tickets, get ready for the scene in which Aladdin takes flight on his magic carpet; you will be in awe.
STARS – ***** “couldn’t fault it in the slightest”
Words by Rob Spence