Review: Aladdin, New Wimbledon

“I’m anybody’s for a pint of semi-skimmed and a walnut yoghurt”

Coming out of Puss in Boots, I said this will be the last panto I see this year. Oh no it wasn’t… The New Wimbledon has built up a reputation to rival the Lyric Hammersmith and the Hackney Empire in London pantomimes, producing slickly professional productions starring high-profile names such as David Hasselhoff, Dame Edna and last year, Priscilla Presley. This year though, the celebrity wattage is homegrown in the form of Jo Brand, who takes the role of the Genie of the Ring in Aladdin

And with someone who actually understands what pantos are all about (Presley’s air of bemusement at the whole shebang was hilarious), the dynamic of the show feels like a properly old-school affair. Brand’s hugely dry wit makes her perhaps too laconic a presence for the kids but she certainly makes the adults laugh, the presence of two Britain’s Got Talent acts lends a variety feel to the whole affair and in Matthew Kelly’s Widow Twankey, there’s a game dame indeed. Continue reading “Review: Aladdin, New Wimbledon”

Review: Thriller Live 1000th Performance, Lyric

“Showing how funky strong is your fight, doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right”

Finding myself the recipient of an invitation to the 1,000th gala performance of Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre put me in something of a little quandary. I’ve had a mixed experience with the few jukebox musicals that I have seen and this was never a show that had appealed to me, despite being a fan of some of Michael Jackson’s music and thus never something I had considered booking. But, in finding a new friend of a similar sceptical view to my own, we took the plunge to visit this ‘musical celebration featuring the hit songs of Michael and the Jackson 5’.

Not knowing what to expect added a little thrill of anticipation but to be frank, by the time the first half was drawing to a close, things were looking grim and it was the prospect of a quick trip to the bar that was keeping us there. The show is free of any narrative constraints, instead taking the form of a musical tribute concert with a largely chronological tread through Jackson’s back catalogue starting in the Jackson 5 days. But what made it particularly painful was the running commentary that Britt Quentin was saddled with, interspersing the songs, reading like banal excerpts from a Wikipedia entry and rather pointless, very much a case of preaching to the converted. Throw in an audience participation section that was lukewarm, a fair few Jackson 5 songs I’d never heard before and X-Factor style montages and my patience was wearing thin. Continue reading “Review: Thriller Live 1000th Performance, Lyric”