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Aladdin | Fairfield Halls

December is pantomime season, and Fairfield Halls in Croydon has chosen Aladdin to be their pantomime for the year. However, it's a reimagined retelling of Aladdin, which captures the magic of the well known and beloved story, whilst bringing us thrilling new characters and hilariously farcical storylines. Directed by Sarah Redmond, and filled with colourful sets, fantastical clothes and larger than life new characters, this show is everything you'd want in a children's show.

New characters include Ring Spirit (Xenoa Campell-Ledgister) who acts as an unhelpful magical guide and occasional narrator, Aladdin's brother Wishee Washee (Charlie Guest) who is the strongest part of this new adaptation, Aladdin's mother Widow (Richard J Hunt) who brings a stunning energy with her, the passionate Emperor (Mark Peachey) and the villainous Abanazar (Davood Ghadami). Ghadami, who plays Abanazar, has a stage presence that can not be ignored, and perfectly masters the quick shifts from the scheming villian to bumbling magician. His inability to perform magic tricks, enhanced by the subtle jabs via music cues from musical conductor Tom Knowles (When Doves Cry by Prince and Revolution), make for hilarious scenes. 

Scruffy but sweet Aladdin (Kian Zomorodian) and independent and passionate Princess Jasmine (Kiera Nicole) both shine in their roles, yet neither of them are given much stage time.

Wishee (Charlie Guest) is the character that most invites the audience into the show, often throwing questions and jokes at the audience, and has a constant call and response catch phrase. Often at the heart of many of the complications, he's a brilliant new addition to Aladdin. Ross Dorrington, who plays the Genie, manages to steal the spotlight whenever he's on stage. As crazy and lovable as ever, his Genie also amazes the audience with a continual bout of impressively choreographed acrobatics (including multiple back flips, box jumps and dancing) with a fabulous flair. 

The musical numbers are brilliant and the cast all have strong vocals, and had this not been a pantomime, it would have been lovely to have dedicated more time on each number. Other than the closing number of each act, songs were kept under a minute, which worked well. The accompanying choreography was also fun to watch, with the ensemble (choreographed by Anthony Whiteman). The songs are often covers and parodies from more well-known songs (personally, I loved seeing Abanazer perform Demi Lovato's 'Confident' with back up dancers, whilst transporting a kidnapped Jasmine, which resulted in a deserved rousing applause from the audience instead of the usual "Boo"). 

The staging and props (Jon Harris, Jason Bishop, Ian Wilson) are apt for the production, with intricately detailed Aladdin designs that are alit through the show. Princess Jasmine's Kingdom and the cave are beautifully designed, and the lighting (John Rainsforth) contributed to this as well, giving it a depth and touch of realism. Costumes are hilariously designed (Elizabeth Dennis), with sparkly clothes for the Genie and Ring Spirit, marvellously regal cloaks for Abanazer, the Emperor colourful patchwork for Wishee and Aladdin, and stunning dresses for Princess Jasmine. But it's the massive and excessive costumes that the Widow wears that delight the audiences the most. 

However, this pantomime occasionally forgets that it is a pantomime. There are large sections in the show that passed by without any audience involvement, which often led to discomforted rustling in the audience. This led to a hurried sequence of back to back pantomime tropes thrown together towards the end, and this then dragged the story out further. This includes the classic "he's behind you", physical comedy, amusing complications and missing characters.

The show also dedicates a hefty amount of time to developing a number of new characters storylines, that deviate from the show. (Widow's romance with Abanazer in particular, plays out for quite a while with its own musical number). Without spoilers, I can say watch out for a particularly impressive magic trick that absolute floored the audience, towards the end with Abanazer and Princess Jasmine. Also magically, it was a delight to see Aladdin soar on his flying carpet (aided with projections and screens).

This is a show that will absolutely have you laughing along, and is a glorious production that will marvel children and adults alike. It's a fantastical and fabulous fun theatre experience, with a tremendously talented cast, and will make your spirits soar. Aladdin plays at Fairfield Halls until 7th January 2024 - for more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Jane Hobson


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