As summer traditions go, I think we’ve found a pretty good one thanks to Everyman Cardiff. For the past three years we’ve headed to Sophia Gardens to enjoy the Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival. The children love the family production and this year we were excited to see Disney’s Aladdin Jr.
I have to mention that this year’s visit didn’t exactly go to plan. I underestimated the draw of a sporting event on the day we had tickets for the festival. We are completely indebted to the Festival for exchanging my tickets. Having enjoyed the performance completely- I am so glad of this kindness.As always, the production stayed true to the known and loved story, but with the production lasting an hour – absolutely perfect for young children- it was concise in its delivery.
Emma-Jayne Parker’s direction was to the heart of the characters and themes the audience love. When we first saw Georgia Tonge’s Princess Jasmine on stage I felt my heart sink as she seemed to have a little bit too much sass. But I shouldn’t have worried, it was the perfect amount of sass for my daughter. Georgia’s talent meant she successfully realised the contrast of the Princess Jasmine whom would fall for street urchin Aladdin.
All three loved Lewys Ringham’s Aladdin. Lewys showed every bit of cheeky confidence, paired with a realistic optimism and a great voice. The performance was endearing and allowed the audience to commit to the story.
The children loved his relationship with the Genie (Cerith Freeman) and couldn’t wait to meet him afterward.By far and away my favourite performance on the day was in Iago. I never expected to write about the parrot. The children and I chatted in the run up about Rajah, Iago, the Genie and the Carpet would be brought to stage. My expectations were completed exceeded in Cadi Mullane’s performance.
There was so much comedic talent in Cadi’s performance. Working alongside James Briggs’ as Jafar enabled an excellent rapport which brought humour to the dark side of the story.Fortunately the children felt the same way. They enjoyed recognising their favourite actors throughout the performance. For E, Cadi’s eye-shadow was a giveaway when she performed as part of the ensemble. My favourite parent moment was E asking “do they all know each other like we do in class assemblies?” My only ‘thing’ this year was that the whole cast seemed younger. Reluctantly I might need to admit this is more about me than the cast. On the flip side my children were hook, line and sinker. With the bonus that they have asked how they might start-up acting and singing classes again.
Disney’s Aladdin Jr did not disappoint. The Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival has a place firmly in my children’s expectation of what makes a good summer holiday.