Thomas and Seren Howells visit Cardiff’s New Theatre for the 2021-22 pantomime Aladdin, starring Paul Chuckle, Gareth Gates, Mike Doyle, Gareth Thomas, Stephanie Webber and Stefan Pejic.
Cardiff New Theatre’s return to pantomime, Aladdin is a hilarious retelling of the original story combining beautiful singing and incredible dancing from all the cast, along with comedy that appeals to all ages.
An Arabian story set in Cardiff, all the infrastructure and anything royal is totally Chinese, but that’s panto and it wouldn’t be the same without it. Also, the story adapts to modern times hysterically with Widow Twankey’s constant references and puns related to the pandemic that I couldn’t get enough of.
There were also many references and jokes that only people from Wales would get. These included mocking football teams to referencing how some places are considered horrible or wonderful and how characters do not want to go so West, that they end up in Bristol!
Mike Doyle’s Widow Twankey and Paul Chuckle’s Wishee Washee work well together to create a lot of laughs and I especially liked their basic costumes. Yes, I also loved the variety of extravagant outfits Twankey repeatedly appears in, but when you compare what they’re wearing to the laundromat’s employees, you can see Wishee Washee is a stage above them and Widow Twankey as some ultimate form, a part that really stuck out to me.
The company also create an iconic shopping scene by Wishee Washee. If you’ve seen these pantos before you will not be disappointed by how they’ve managed to do it.
While Gareth Gates works brilliantly alongside his co-stars as Aladdin, Gareth Thomas embraces a lot of fun energy as the Genie with exaggerated movements and flamboyance. He always leaves the audience laughing.
Stefan Pejic’s villainous Abanazar from start to end acts as the quintessential panto villain and a bit of an idiot to perfection. Delivering a strong performance he maintains good engagement with the audience, getting the appropriate shouts of approval (or disapproval!) Another strong addition is Stephanie Webber as Scherezade whose light works well against the darkness of Abanazar.
On a technical side, there are some very entertaining dance routines performed by the ensemble, while lights and sound help add to the narrative’s atmosphere and the aura of the characters throughout the presentation.
Amazing, funny and very enjoyable, Aladdin is a riotous return to panto that we all need after the past two years!
- Aladdin continues at Cardiff’s New Theatre until January 2, 2022, visit the New Theatre website for ticket details.
- Aladdin Photographs by Tim Dickerson featuring Denquar Chupak (Princess Jasmine), Gareth Gates (Aladdin), Lorraine Brown (Empress) Paul Chuckle (Wishee Washee) Mike Doyle (Widow Twankey) Stephanie Webber (Scherezade) Stefan Pejic (Abanazar) and Gareth Thomas (Genie of the Lamp).