At the beginning of December 2023 I went to see Marlowe Theatre’s Aladdin. Stars such as Kevin Clifton (Strictly Come Dancing), Phil Gallagher (CBeebies Mister Maker) and the Marlowe legend Ben Roddy were in top form as they told us the epic tale of a boy whose life becomes magical when he finds a lamp with a genie inside.
To keep things current, they put some of their own creativity into the story. For instance, the classic ‘bad guy’ (played by Kevin Clifton) was named Ivan To-chachacha and was determined to become the greatest ballroom dancer of all time. They also used many popular songs such as Teenage Dirtbag, by Wheatus, to explore how Aladdin felt when he met Princess Jasmine for the first time. Although the law stated she had to marry a prince, Jasmine loved Aladdin for who he was, returning with him to his mother’s joke shop, Born to Pun.
There are also some traditional skits that you must see, the annual pantomime water fight (yes, I did get soaked) and, of course, the pantomime bench - everyone knows the chant and the responses to the Dame and whichever unfortunate characters sit on the bench get scared by ghosts, or in this performance, mummies.
Another fun classic of the panto is putting the spotlight on an audience member, more specifically a dad. This year, the Dame was looking for the perfect ‘Ken’ (I should mention at this point that when the Dame first appeared she was in a life-sized Barbie box wearing the black and white Barbie swimming costume, channelling Margot Robbie in 2023’s hit film Barbie). By using a ‘Ken-Cam’ the cast brought someone onto the stage to read punchlines and receive much attention from Dame Dolly.
I’ve been to Canterbury’s pantomimes for over ten years and this one was up there with the best I’ve seen. I am already excited to see this year’s production of Beauty and The Beast, which has not been on stage at the Marlowe for twenty-five years. It will also be the beloved musical director Chris Wong’s thirtieth year working on pantomimes in Canterbury. These shows sell out fast, so head to the box office and get tickets now – It’s the lawwww!