Aladdin review at Royal and Derngate, Northampton – ‘the wrong sort of bad’
Northampton Royal and Derngate’s Aladdin claims it has “everything you could wish for in a panto”. As far as I can tell, it only has one thing to offer: it looks spectacular. Stewart Nicholls’ production is a riot of colourful extravagance, a barrage of ridiculous costumes, vibrant sets, and squeal-inducing coups-de-theatre.
Elsewhere, though, it doesn’t exactly satisfy, but provoke questions. Questions like how does Sheila Ferguson of successful Philadelphia pop trio The Three Degrees (When Will I See You Again?) end up playing the Fairy Godmother (badly) in a clunky, characterless panto in Northampton?
Questions like who are Union J, and why is their lead singer Jaymi Hensley playing Aladdin (badly)? Questions like does Paul Nicholas have a shred of self-respect left? Questions like what is the point of life, if all it consists of is suffering?
It’s not that Aladdin is bad, it’s that it’s the wrong sort of bad. It’s that it’s so obviously an assembly-line panto, so evidently a product to be consumed. Most of the right panto ingredients are here – a dame, sing-a-longs, vaguely offensive Orientalism – but there’s some key ingredients missing. There’s not a shred of genuine community spirit, of genuine enthusiasm, of genuine Christmas cheer. Boo. Hiss.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.