The magic of Christmas well and truly arrived at the weekend and left me feeling full of festive cheer thanks to this year’s panto at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.
An enjoyable night of thigh-slapping fun brought the perfect end to two fun-filled days of putting up the tree, listening to Christmas songs and drinking copious amounts of mulled wine.
Aladdin was an absolute stormer – thanks mainly to the sensational cast led by stage king Christopher Biggins alongside dapper boyband heartthrob Simon Webbe from Blue.
Add the city’s favourite panto comic Ben Nickless into the mix, for his third consecutive year, and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for a night of fun and laughter.
It was Biggins who stole the show as Widow Twanky, setting the tone by making his grand entrance from inside a giant sparkling birthday cake, a clever touch to mark the theatre’s 150th anniversary.
The larger-than-life star donned several wacky costumes, including an outfit featuring two giant cherries, a bizarre laundry basket number with washing machine hat, a football pitch plus a hilarious glittering tribute to Marks & Spencer.
Naturally there were a few wardrobe malfunctions, the most memorable being the loss of Biggins’ fake left leg in one scene, but incidents like these only added to the frivolity of the occasion.
Pop legend Webbe seemed at ease playing the role of Aladdin and it was his flawless singing which wowed the audience, including a duet of Blue’s ‘One Love’ with the beautiful Princess Jamsine (Emilie Du Leslay).
Nickless was superb as Wishee Washee, treating the audience to some great impressions of celebrities including Alan Carr, Keith Lemon and even Christopher Biggins himself.
The show had everything you could wish for – spectacular special effects, beautifully-coloured sets, some very impressive pyrotechnics along with plenty of bubbles and loud booms.
The giant hissing cobra at the start is worth a mention, but this year’s highlight had to be Aladdin’s magic flying carpet ride, on which a finely-perched Webbe was thrust into the open-jawed crowd.
In this landmark year, the Theatre Royal has once again pulled out all the stops, leaving families with many moments to treasure. So well done Nottingham . . . here’s to the next 150 years!
Aladdin runs until Sunday January 10. Tickets are from £15 at trch.co.uk.
Photo by Tracey Whitefoot