Last year my mum developed ‘bad grandmother’ complex as she decided on Christmas Day we really should be going to the Pantomime. We couldn’t get tickets to suit so mum ranked it up as a #granniefail.
Roll on 2015 and mum was eager to remedy this so we sorted tickets for the first Monday of the school holidays. This was to be my first trip to the pantomime with children, and as a favourite Disney cartoon for all of us, we were in luck that this year’s offering of Aladdin at the New Theatre was going to be our introduction.
Because, truth be told, pantomime is something on my undecided list. Up until now I was cautious that my children wouldn’t sit through a lengthy performance, and at 2 hours 2omins (including interval) it is longer than most children’s theatre. It turns out that four and six years old is the perfect age for pantomime; they were absolutely engrossed and it was the perfect duration for them. My other reservation about pantomime was how much of the script is directed at ‘laughs for grown ups’, and these on the whole were well incorporated, my little ones attention was lost a bit with the shopping cart, but overall this didn’t matter to them, ergo to me. And yes, the ticket prices are a little more than usual for Cardiff theatre, but potentially reasonable when compared to other cities.
Saying all that, Aladdin at the New Theatre in Cardiff is definitely something that amazed my children, and each for very different reasons, which made me love the pantomime even more, it made me appreciate how individual my children are.
CM, at 6, instantly spotted there were young children on stage- the very talented performers from the Lorri Guppy School- I may have used the opportunity to create an added motivation for her to do well at Superstars in the Making! And, of course, CM was completely besotted by Princess Jasmine, Holly Bluett was absolutely wonderful in the role and everything my children expected a princess to be.E climbed on my lap for a better vantage point. At 4 years old, I was really wary of the boys’ need for loo breaks and taking after their dad for attention-deficit. I was to be completely mocked. They both sat unmovable. E loved Wishee Washee (Andy Jones), absolutely unbeknown to me it seems my son has never heard “Oggy, Oggy, Oggy” before, and I am certainly paying the price for that now.
E, like me adored the musical interludes- the dancing and the singing (and yes, of course I used the opportunity to tell him to do well at Superstars too!), and was shouting and getting involved with the best of them.
And that’s another thing I love most about the theatre, I get to learn so much about my children. B on stage is the most extrovert- singing and dancing ahead of everyone, but as an observer he’s restrained, a spectator. E on stage is a participant, but as an observer he’s so engaged and ready to get involved.
B chose my mum for company and for the first half sat on her lap. But in the second half was happy to sit on his seat to absorb everything. The independence of this child overwhelms me.
All three were happily fearful of Sam Kane as Amanazar. I loved that they wanted to be more scared (the boys put their hands over their ears rather than their eyes), but not scared enough to want to be divorced from the story.
And for me they were kept engrossed because of the talented cast, they were not only acting but ensuring they were engaging with the audience, at times this meant they were able to show how much they were enjoying the performance as much as us, it meant keeping the pace of the performance-that there was enough trepidation in the tale to keep little ones on the edge of their seats.
And then there was the absolute moments, the twelve days of Christmas has to be the one which made us our family memory. Only because we have a lovely twelve days of Christmas decoration across our mantlepiece, which CM noticed this year, and the familiarity as Grandma has one (because she made one for my home too). CM became convinced her Grandma had written the song. Can you imagine the enjoyment of a new version, which of course needed to be sung all the way back through town!
One thing I wish, I wish Aladdin’s magical carpet ride hadn’t taken Aladdin out in the audience. Up until then I think my children were awestruck. Not so much it transpired as when asking E about it, he informed me that two ninjas were operating the crane. Gutted. But yes, I saw them too (well people in balaclavas anyway).
It was a fantastic spectacle but relied on the eye being drawn to Aladdin, it seems at least one of my children is a skeptic.
But yes, overall an absolute thumbs up, made a lot better due to my own skepticism, I couldn’t believe what a fantastic time we each had. The cast was fantastic, the most wonderful mix of talent with Welsh talent, enough excitement to keep everyone engaged, enough laughter to keep smiles on everyone’s faces.
At the end E turned to me and asked if we could go and meet them all.
I felt like a bad mum, but loved that he loved it so much he wasn’t ready for it to be over.
Aladdin is at the New Theatre, Cardiff until 17th January 2016, tickets are available on the website or at the Box Office on 029 20 878889.