It’s not really Christmas until you’ve been to the Panto!
This year’s festive offering at Sunderland’s Empire Theatre is Aladdin and it’s fair to say it left the audience thoroughly tickled with its outrageous antics.
Starring former Footballer’s Wives star Gary Lucy and Newcastle drag legend Miss Rory, the Martin Dodd production runs until January 2 so there is still plenty time to grab some tickets.
Taking place in the fictional ‘Far East Boldon’, the Panto tells the story of Hendon lad Aladdin who falls in love with the unobtainable Princess Jasmine. Many Mackem and Geordie jokes ensue along with hysterical quips about Rishi Sunak and Downing Street parties.
Tyneside institution Miss Rory completely stole the show with her performance as Widow Twankey which has the audience (myself included) cackling at her filthy jokes and spot-on delivery. Miss Rory has hosted at Newcastle’s cabaret hotspot Boulevard since 2010 so is no stranger to the stage but this may have been her best role yet.
The other stand-out performance comes from Newcastle actor Tom Whalley who stars as Aladdin’s hapless brother Wishee Washee. The most impressive part of Tom’s larger than life performance is the knack he has for imitating the Mackem accent – not easy for a native Geordie!
The innuendo from particularly Tom and Miss Rory was as outrageous as ever but didn’t quite go over my young companion’s head as it should! Kids these days know too much…
The titular role was played by Seattle-born actor Mikko Juan and Princess Jasmine was played by Aisha Numah who had a solo number with Harry Styles’ hit Late Night Talking.
The Emperor, played by Richard Anthony-Lloyd, also had an entertaining number as he belted out Meghan Trainor’s recent TikTok sensation Made You Look.
Soapstar Gary Lucy took on the villainous role of Abanazar – a name comically butchered every time by Miss Rory – and amusingly entered the stage each time to the Hollyoaks theme tune.
If you’re in the mood for a festive family night out that will leave you belly-laughing or mortified in front of your children, give Aladdin a visit!
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