THE PERFECT HOLIDAY TONIC
For nearly 80 years The Alhambra has been synonymous with spectacular pantomimes.
Aladdin is a rich and colourful tale from the Arabian Nights and the lavish, richly dressed red and gold of the opening scene is only a taster for what is to come and be warned it’s enough to blow your socks off!
This year Qdos have pulled out every pantomime stop to make it their best at the theatre yet. There’s special effects, the famous 3D interlude, flying, glittering costumes, breath-taking sets, but yet, despite all his Aladdin still retains the traditional pantomime element.
Suffice to say that Billy Pearce is one of those traditions and The Alhambra pantomime would not be pantomime without him. “This year I’m Wishee Washee” he quips as he makes his entrance on a motorised walking frame and within second he has the audience whipped up in a frenzy and raising the roof.
The consummate pantomime performer, Pearce is marking 20 years in pantos at the theatre. Well passed bus pass age he has amazing turbo-charged energy. Hardly ever off stage, he romps his way through traditional panto gags, side-splitting audience participation and being turned upside down on a magic carpet.
Sad to say Christopher Biggin’s Widow Twankee doesn’t have the same energy or sparkle. Despite his amazing costumes he has little audience rapport and at times he appeared to be merely walking through some of the gags. Having seen Biggins many times as a superb dame he comes over quite disappointing .
Simon Webb’s loveable Aladdin is everything it should be. He’s particularly appealing to the kids and has developed a kind of story-book magic that bodes well with his great vocals.
David O’Mahony’s Abanazaar is outstanding. He’s got the perfect balance of the role and doesn’t scare the tiny tots. Involved in traditional gags such as The Short Sleeved Shirt he also shows he can handle comedy superbly.
Sarah Goggin is a spirited, pretty-as-a picture Princess Jasmine, whilst Emily Beth Harrington’s powerful voice as Scheherazade literally brings the house down with her rendition of “Defying Gravity”.
Completing the cast are a highly talented ensemble who execute Stillie Dee’s stylish and complicated choreography masterfully and with unsurpassed vitality. And of course no Alhambra pantomime would be complete with the ah! factor of the famous, fabulous Sunbeams.
The pantomime runs until 20 January.
Liz Coggins is a member of the critics circle.