If you can’t imagine an exotic eastern bazaar with Shandon steeple nestled in the background, or if it’s been a while since you’ve booed a baddy, then get yourself along to Aladdin at the Everyman Palace Theatre.
It’s three hours of non-stop colour and classic panto action. I still haven’t quite figured out how they managed to jam Mary Poppins, Wizard of Oz and Star Wars scenes in there, as well as traditional panto riffs and pure Cork puns, but, somehow, they do.
Larger than life Widow Twankey is played by Ciarán Bermingham, who is perhaps better known to some of the adults in the audience as Eyrie Castle jailer, Mord, in Game of Thrones. And he’s a super blend of gurning, shimmying and dire puns.
Hot on his heels for sheer energy and fun is the streetwise genius, Genie, played by Keith Hanley. And classic star-struck lovers Aladdin (Lee Matthews) and Princess Jasmine (Niamh O’Mahony) tick all the right boxes — young, in love at first sight and a spot-on version of ‘A Whole New World’. Villain Abanazar (Michael Sands) exudes a love-to-hate-you badness and gets all the kids heckling him, letting the other characters know when he has sidled up behind them. Kids really loved joining Abrakedabra’s (Fionula Linehan) gang, too, and really gave it welly every time she got the ‘Abra Abra Abra — oi oi oi’ chant going.
It’s great to see children, who are often more at home with an iPad or smartphone, gasping with delight when the magic carpet flies through a starry night without a string or lever in sight. Top marks, too, to the costume designer, who must have bought up every last sequin and yard of taffeta in town for the superb costumes. We might take the live orchestra for granted during the many musical numbers, but it’s when they ‘track’ the dame doing her funny waddle, or when they come in right on cue for a fall or a scuffle, that you really appreciate them.
- Aladdin runs at the Everyman, Cork, until Sunday, January 10