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REVIEW: Aladdin (panto, Macrobert Arts Centre)

14 December 2023

Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling

⭐⭐⭐⭐


Written and directed by Johnny McKnight.


Aladdin (panto, pantomime) at Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling. Written and directed by Johnny McKnight.

This year's pantomime at Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling is not just your standard Aladdin tale. No, it's a DISCO inspired retelling of Aladdin, complete with checkered dance floor, disco balls, thumping tunes and sequins galore. It's a big, bright, brilliant take on the classic story, and it delivers an evening of non-stop fun and entertainment.


In Discotopia we meet the McTwank family headed by wanton widow Marge O'Reen McTwank (Johnny McKnight). Widow McTwank owns the last laundrette in town, and she already has her hands full when the Demon King (Robbie Jack) arrives in town looking for an old lamp.


Widow McTwank's eldest daughter Aladdin (Betty Valencia), her beau Prince Jasper (Dylan Wood), and her sister Wiz-she-was-she (Helen McAlpine) all become caught up in the Demon King's dastardly plan to find the disco lamp, and all their lives are changed forever.


Aladdin (panto, pantomime) at Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling. Written and directed by Johnny McKnight. Photo credit: Peter Dibdin

The eye-catching set design by Karen Tennent draws the audience into this show from the very first second. It's colourful and bold, and the perfect backdrop to host such exuberant pantomime characters as Johnny McKnight has created here. Paired with gorgeous lighting from Grant Anderson and a disco-tastic, dazzling soundtrack from Alan Penman, this Aladdin feels like a panto party from the start.


The cast are great, playing all the classic Aladdin roles tweaked and twisted in ways only McKnight could think up.


Dylan Wood's Prince Jasper is wonderfully regal and refined, but the stuffed teddy bear who sits atop his shoulder is not! The bear is tough, Scottish and straight-talking; and switching back and forth between the two characters without hesitation is a remarkable display of voice work from Wood.


Robert Jack's Demon King is suitably villainous, but also, still sparkly! A great baddie for the audience to boo. And the young cast members playing his minions all do a great job supporting his evil antics.


This version of 'Aladdin' does not have a common Genie either, but rather Amy Conachan's 'Wee Jeanie' is the slave of the lamp, in another great variation on this well-trodden tale.


Aladdin (panto, pantomime) at Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling. Written and directed by Johnny McKnight. Photo credit: Peter Dibdin

It is Johnny McKnight himself who takes on the Panto Dame role in Discotopia, and in my opinion, there is none finer. As soon as he burst onto the stage singing Kylie's recent club hit 'Padam Padam' resplendent from head to toe in red Lycra, I knew we were in for some classic McKnight magic. He is simply a delicious dame.


The controlled chaos McKnight causes both on and off stage throughout the show is a masterclass in panto shenanigans. His quick wit and devious mind mean that no one (in the audience nor on stage) is safe from his antics. I truly believe you could go to this pantomime every evening and see some new and fresh madness from the master of misrule. He is such an incredible talent; a true national treasure.


Bonus points for performing the disco version of one of my favourite tunes: One Night Only. Fantastic!


Aladdin (panto, pantomime) at Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling. Written and directed by Johnny McKnight. Photo credit: Peter Dibdin

If you have a child who is easily bored, this panto is sure to keep them enthralled. I have never seen such a bold, bright set at Panto time - it's so well-conceived. Even the very tiny baby behind me, who had no idea what was going on, was completely mesmerised by the colours for the whole 2 hours. The mash-up of songs are without exception, brilliant. I would buy this soundtrack tomorrow. The humour is ceaseless and the cast look like they are having the time of their lives (McKnight torturing them aside.) Aladdin really is a joy, and a feast for all the senses.


Playing Macrobert Art Centre Main House until Sunday 31st December, McKnight's Disco Aladdin is the brightest, boldest, banging panto you will find in the pantosphere this festive season. So, boogie on down to Macrobert Arts Centre this Christmas. You're sure to be entertained.


⭐⭐⭐⭐


📸 Production photos: Peter Dibdin


⚠️ Scroll to the end to find out about the other festive show currently playing at Macrobert, Eric the Elf - aimed at aged 5 and under. And to see more reviews featuring some of this cracking cast.


Aladdin (panto, pantomime) at Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling. Written and directed by Johnny McKnight. Photo credit: Peter Dibdin

 

Cast 

Jeanie/Queenie                  Amy Conachan

The Demon King                  Robert Jack 

Wiz-She-Was-She McTwank       Helen McAlpine

Marge O’Reen McTwank           Johnny McKnight

Ensemble/Understudy/Dance Captain       Kara Swinney

Ensemble/Understudy            Ryan Towart

Aladdin                          Betty Valencia

Prince Jasper                      Dylan Wood

Creative Team

Writer and Director Johnny McKnight

Set Designer Karen Tennent

Costume & Make-Up Designer Jennie Lööf

Lighting Designer Grant Anderson

Musical Director, Composer, Arranger Alan Penman

Choreographer Steph Fulton

Associate Director Jennifer Dick


 

Eric the Elf by Andy McGregor at Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling.

Eric The Elf is a fun-filled, interactive, inspiring musical adventure with lots of laughs and songs for wee ones to join in with this Christmas. First produced and presented by the Citizens Theatre, this very special show invites young audiences to join Eric on his adventure to save Christmas.


It’s Eric’s first day working in Santa’s Grotto and he is about as excited as an Elf can be. But what starts out as a magical day filled with fun soon goes wrong, as Eric is left all on his ownsome with the future of Christmas resting entirely on his rather small shoulders. Thankfully, a whole bunch of his little human pals have shown up, little children from all over Scotland and beyond. Surely if they work together, they can get the job done?


With BSL and relaxed performances on offer, and reduced ticket prices for nurseries and playgroups of more than 10 children, this is a show that’s sure to wow those aged 5 and under.


 

🎄 While you are waiting for your show to begin, you can browse 'Handmade 2023', Macrobert’s annual exhibition of some of Scotland’s best makers and artists. On display now until 7 January 2024, Handmade is a pop-up market with a fantastic array of gifts by Scotland’s Artists and Makers.


 

Listings Information


Aladdin

Dates: 1 – 31 December 2023 at various times.

120 minutes


Eric The Elf

Dates: 5 – 31 December 2023 at various times.

For ages 5 and under | 60 minutes

Ticket prices: You Choose: £10.50 / £12.50 / £14.50


Handmade 2023

Dates: 27 November 2023 – 7 January 2024

Ticket prices: FREE


 

🌟Aladdin (panto, pantomime) at Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling. Written and directed by Johnny McKnight.🌟


🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.


📧 For media and review requests contact Lisa_InTheTheatre@outlook.com

💗 To see more pictures and videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram


Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.

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