Panto: Aladdin

Cork Opera House: Judging by the shapes thrown at Cork Opera House last night, there can be no debate about the number one festive dance craze: ‘What Does the Fox Say?’.

And no, it wasn’t an electronic pop gig, it was Aladdin, the Cheerios Christmas panto where no-one had to be coaxed to give it loads.

The thing about panto is it’s every adult’s guilty pleasure. Let’s face it — the kids don’t really get the jokes. It’s a bit like The Simpsons — full of double entendres but watched by the kids because of the way it’s packaged. And boy was this year’s panto well presented.

We had the usual high level of professionalism from the dancers topped this year by some fabulous aerial gymnastics. The set design was outstanding and the costumes sparkling. I never thought I’d see a flying carpet but this production really pulled it off.

Set in Chinatown, Cork, there was the usual sprinkling of topical one-liners, the best of them delivered by Frank Mackey, aka Widow Twankey. Aladdin, played by Scottish actor Llandyll Gove — a mini John Travolta — stole my five–year-old daughter’s heart while his camp brother, Wishey Washee, played by Michael Joseph, was great for laughs.

We all loved the genie of the lamp, LA-born singer Velvin Lamont, who looked not unlike BA Baracus and had a fabulous moment in a blonde wig. Jafar, the baddie we love to boo, lived up to the mark, while Princess Jasmine (Karen Tynan) and her father, Emperor Strong Pong (Marcus Bale) ensured there was no weak link in the production.

Pulling it all beautifully together was director/writer Bryan Flynn whose clever use of video made sure we were very much in the 21st century. Watch out for the Grand Theft Carpet face-off (my seven-year-old son wants it for Christmas).

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, as did my kids and other half. The only complaint was my daughter thought the sound was a bit too loud.

Bring plenty of cash. The usual expensive high-vis toys are on sale. Tickets aren’t cheap: €25-30; family nThe show runs until Jan 18, matinees from next Friday at 2.30pm.

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