Reviewed by Victoria and Michael Linney
Aladdin at The Lichfield Garrick from the outset is fast paced hilarity, bolstered by superb musical impact and high standards of dance, enveloping you like a wave. With wet your pants laugh out loud, teary eyed sketches and just enough adult humour to align all ages of the audience, Paul Hendy and Emily Wood’s production delivers a rip-roaring punch of a story.
Music Director Dave Cullin’s ensemble brings the stage to life with a vibrant yet well balanced acoustic presentation, blending classical panto content with recent modern Rock. Dave’s big stage show experiences really shine through without over powering your ears. Quite a feat considering the Garrick’s relatively demur size.
Visually being biased towards the younger age group, the bright stage-sets and costumes provided animation and constant wonderment to our 19-month-old son and near 4-year-old daughter.
The high calibre cast include BAFTA award winning Cat Sandion (CBeebies), local actor Sam Rabone (Dick Whittington and Sleeping Beauty), Ben Thornton (High School Musical, Big Girls Don’t cry World Tour and many more) and Adrian Bevan (Shaken Not Stirred, Page To Stage etc).
Sam’s Widow Twanky (a fat bloke in a dress!) drags you into his character with vigour, leaving you wanting more when he exits stage. His (her) son, Wishee Washee (Ben Thornton), rolled constant punch lines staggered with live jokes amongst his peers in a seamless act, far younger than his age. Adrian plays the classical version of Aladdin, with superb solo vocal signature and dynamic dance skills more akin to a hybrid ballet than a traditional panto.
The audience were involved from the start – especially poor ‘Bill’; a front row ticket holder chosen by Twanky to stand and shout at the top of his voice “Hello Gorgeous” every time Widow Twanky offered “Hello Bill” when coming on stage.
Complexities such as changing the choreography ‘live’, mid-way through a scene, suspension wire acts, genie’s appearing behind flash bangs and full-scale elephants dancing on stage, failed to hinder the team and their act. One particular scene early into the 2nd half, has Rabone, Thornton and Mitchell (Twanky, Wishee Washee and PC Pongo) receive near standing rapturous applause following a gut aching, tear invoking ‘Laurel & Hardy’ esq slapstick sing along sketch that involved slippery foam, a large feather duster, paint brushes and a tennis racket.
These did little to lower the tempo and gusto, the timing and speed were jaw dropping phenomenal.
Although the Garrick offers a closer experience to the stage than most theatres, this production uses this to full effect; punching hard and with such quality that final curtain draw leaves you wanting more from this team.
The facilities are clean, well defined and beautifully maintained. Staff are caring, considerate and constantly nearby if needed. This theatre is our chosen local, one which we proudly support whenever we can. Being close to the main shopping precinct, concludes a well-planned day out, with quality brand shopping, multitude of restaurants and good, secure free parking after 6.30pm. The Garrick offers booster seats to young children, a well-stocked bar, fantastic cuisine (when offered) and tailored packages to attract all ranges of theatre lovers.
Would we go again – where do we sign up? Dick Whittington is on for next year with Sam Rabone in dress (literally).
We will not miss this presentation either. We cannot recommend both the theatre and this production highly enough.
Tickets cost from £16 to £29 (booking fees may apply).
Aladdin is at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre from 30 November 2017 to 6 January 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.lichfieldgarrick.com or call the box office on 01543 412121.
Lichfield Garrick Theatre, Castle Dyke, Lichfield, WS13 6HR | 01543 412121