Review: Aladdin is a Stevenage smash-hit for all ages, and here’s the proof

17:02 07 December 2014

Aladdin Gordon Craig

Aladdin Gordon Craig


We asked Charlotte Nash to review this year’s big panto at the Gordon Craig, and it only made sense to ask son Leon, six, what he thought as well. The family verdict: Thumbs up all round!

Charlotte Nash and son Leon SigirtmacCharlotte Nash and son Leon Sigirtmac

Charlotte’s view:

Was it fantastic? At the risk of lapsing into pantomime cliche right from the start, oh yes it was!

An official press night for Aladdin was held on Friday night, one week into the run, and I couldn’t wait to see the show.

Panto is everything Christmas should be – it’s time to spend together as a family, a time for fun and laughter, and a time for dancing.

That’s right, dancing. When did you last go to a panto and end up on your feet busting moves to disco music?

That was just one of the surprises in store in this year’s 40th anniversary show.

Director Chris Jordan had promised at the launch of the production weeks ago that the audience would be seeing things they’ve never seen before and it’s been a long wait to see whether he would deliver.

I wasn’t a believer before curtain up – I mean, what can a panto really offer that is so different? Part of the point of panto is that is reassuringly predictable, from the singalong songs to hissing the baddy.

I hadn’t expected a laser show, a disco and a string of mind-boggling magic tricks, and that wasn’t all.

Former EastEnders favourite Shaun Williamson had plenty of magic up his sleeve playing the evil Abanazaar, and even the adults in the audience were astounded at the stunts that were staged in front of their very eyes.

My heart goes out to the princess who gets set on fire and cut in half and still returns in one piece for the finale – sometimes three times daily.

As we went for interval drinks, Leon literally had a belly ache from the copious amounts of laughing, and my mouth was fixed in a permanent grin.

We arrived back in our seats for the second half, thinking it couldn’t possibly get any better – and we couldn’t have been more wrong.

The next treat was a magic carpet ride through the skies over Stevenage with Aladdin and the genie, and it was so realistic Leon actually asked me how we were getting back to the theatre.

The on stage chemistry between the cast members really makes the show a winner.

It was clear for all to see that Paul Laidlaw as Widow Twankee – the lychpin of the Gordon Craig panto for what seems like a lifetime – was intentionally trying to make his co-stars laugh, and it was compulsive viewing. It’s brilliant to see a cast with so much charisma and harmony.

A fantastic family fun show, and it is an absolute must to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Aladdin runs until January 25 – grab your tickets while you can at

Leon’s view:

The show was really magical and I had so much fun with my mummy.

My favourite character was Wishee Washee, I thought he was really funny and a bit silly. He made me laugh lots.

I liked it when we went on a magic carpet ride, I got to see all of my favourite places in Stevenage from really high in the sky and Aladdin came with us too.

I really like magic, so when Abanazaar did his magic tricks I really loved it.

I had to cover my mummy’s eyes when he cut the princess in half, we were really happy when he put her back together though.

I really like dancing, and we did lots of dancing and singing. I didn’t like the Frozen songs, because all of my friends always sing them at school all the time, but I loved the Mamma Mia song.

My tummy hurt because I laughed so much.

Widow Twankee was very funny, she kept doing silly things and she wore really funny dresses.

I had so much fun at Aladdin. I have seen it twice now, but I really want to go again.

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