Review: Aladdin @ The New Wimbledon Theatre



Jo Brand, Matthew Kelly and Flawless star in the popular production.

By Molly Kersey and Alice Todman

This Christmas The New Wimbledon Theatre’s panto offering is an all-singing all-dancing production of Aladdin to start the festive season in style.

No Christmas pantomime is complete without celebrity guests and Aladdin is no exception, with Brand making her pantomime debut as a sarcastic Genie of the Ring, Matthew Kelly as a camp Widow Twankey and stars of Britain’s Got Talent, Flawless, as the street-dancing Peking Police Force.

The acts are well-chosen and Flawless get a round of applause before and after each of their slick appearances. Their fantastic routine which saw them shrouded in darkness, wearing suits covered with coloured lights, is a spectacular highlight of the show. 

Alan Committie is excellent as Aladdin’s brother Wishee Washee. He is the ‘Buttons’ figure of the show, holding the whole thing together and getting the audience involved.

He gets four children who have found golden tickets in their programmes up on stage to sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm. This sounds simple enough but they say never work with children or animals on stage for a reason. Committie pulls it off with the endearing result of a farm featuring 1000 kittens, a baby rabbit and a dinosaur.

The show differs from the Disney film most audiences are familiar with, featuring songs from Guns N’ Roses, U2 and in one surreal interlude, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky.

There are plenty of modern day references, such as Jo Brand showcasing her twerking skills holding a foam finger. 

It also includes two genies, with Shaheen Jafargholi as the Genie of the Lamp, who sings every one of his lines. Jafargholi is another Britain’s Got Talent graduate. His voice is strong enough and there are enough jokes about the singing that it doesn’t become annoying.

Aladdin (Oliver Thornton) and Jasmine (Claire-Marie Hall)’s romance is a bit lightweight, and Labrinth’s ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’ isn’t quite the right song to deliver it. Then again, this is pantomime, not Romeo and Juliet.

David Bedella as Abanazar is a fantastic villain, with a brilliantly evil cackle attracting “boos” from the audience every time.

There are plenty of Wimbledon-based jokes and sections of bawdy humour to keep adults entertained. We are even treated to a mini stand up set from Brand. It’s certainly the first time I’ve heard the words “no more page 3” in a panto.

Some clever physical comedy along with a mixed bag of puns and a ridiculous rap about laundry make the humour varied and widely appealing.

A digital screen above the stage before the performance tells us that Aladdin was first staged in this theatre in 1930, as well as to buy the DVD of Shrek the Musical.

If it carries on producing crowd-pleasing shows like this, The New Wimbledon Theatre will be putting on pantomimes for many years to come.

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