I’ll get straight to the point: if you see one show this Christmas, it must be the pantomime at the Kings Theatre, Southsea.
OK, so I may be a little bit biased because last year I was part of the cast of Sleeping Beauty and was lucky enough to perform on that famous stage.
This meant I got to know the team behind the scenes who make the panto magic happen and see just how hard they work to make the show so special.
So it was a little strange to be back in the audience to watch this year’s offering, Aladdin.
I took my seat in the dress circle, my favourite place to watch, with a great view of the stage. From the very start when the lights dimmed to signal the start was imminent, right up to the very end when the cast waved goodbye and the curtain dropped I was thoroughly entertained.
What a fantastic cast. Antony Costa from the multi-million-selling band Blue is the perfect choice to play Aladdin and was instantly likeable and made riding a magic carpet look easy.
Aladdin’s brother, Wishee Washee, is played by panto veteran Aiden J Harvey who made the audience feel truly part of the show and the children loved shouting back his chant, which included the Churchill dog impression many times throughout the performance.
The X Factor stars Kitty Brucknell and Jade Ellis play Princess Yasmine and the Genie of the Lamp respectively. It became obvious why they got so far on the TV talent show. Their performances were stunning and to borrow some words from Simon Cowell, world class.
The laughs come from not one, but two panto dames. Phil Randall is Widow Twankey and Christopher Marlowe plays the Empress of China. They both delivered lines that had the audience in stitches but many times throughout the show just their entrance proved to be hilarious due to the outrageous and over-the-top outfits they were wearing.
The cast is completed by Jack Edwards as Abanazar whose evil cackle was enough to put a chill up anyone’s spine and Gosport-born Marcus Patrick who played the Genie of the Ring proved popular with the women in the audience.
A special mention must also be made to the dancers who really made the show feel special.
Due to my panto experience last year, I watched the show through different eyes, knowing what is going on behind those curtains.
But one thing is for sure, the Kings Theatre always delivers a fantastic pantomime and this year is no exception. I know how much effort is put in by the cast and crew and it really showed.
When you see the show, I think you’ll agree.