It is a pretty packed night on opening night. There are a lot of children who are very excited to be here. The Empty Space is covered in Christmas decorations and they are even selling mulled wine for that extra festive cheer.
In this production of Aladdin – the highlight of the night for me is Abanazar (played by Matthew Christmas). He is the full package. He has the voice, provides plenty of funny moments and of course the boos. At one point he ‘vanishes’ and then he shows up on the side of the seating and lucky for me, he showed up right next to me.
His costume is also one of my favourites with it being so wonderfully accurate to the original Jafar costume. Aladdin (played by Ella Holt) is also pretty good. Following panto tradition he is played by a woman which gives warmer feeling somehow. She is wearing a green dress before she changes into the classic white ‘prince’ outfit. She has all the energy for the pantomime and her voice is hitting all the right notes.
Local kids are given experience as stage hands and even though this slows the show down a bit, it is lovely to see them working behind the scenes. In terms of pace, the script does feel stilted and slow sometimes. I am sure this will pick up as the run continues.
The two very young children who are the palace guards really do put all their heart and soul into the performance. There were a few problems with the sound on the night I attended which meant that some of the dialogue went unheard. Aladdin existed before Disney got hold of it and this production differs to this well-known version and that may not appeal to everyone who has a copy of the animated classic.
The youngsters in the cast are excited to be there and they really want to do their best. For panto lovers they have many if the tropes such as the handy little bench, the songs and of course the audience participation.
And if you are friends and family of the young children performing, you will have a blast.
Aladdin is The Empty Space in Salford until 24th December and tickets can be booked via the link below