Aladdin: a lad in peril and a legend in panto

Forget what you think you know about Aladdin from the Disney movie, as this pantomime version is far more based on the original version that has been wowing children the world over for centuries.

Following its roaring success with Cinderella last Christmas, the Copenhagen Theatre Circle are excited to present Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp.

Written and directed by Reumert Award winner Barry McKenna, this is one show that will delight and win over audiences of all ages. Pantomimes aren’t just for kids after all.

And while it doesn’t include flying carpets or monkeys sitting on shoulders, it does reference everything from Starbucks and Easyjet to the Danish Royal Family.

The story begins in a Chinese town where we meet the poor boy Aladdin. He is then befriended by the magician Abanazar, who passes himself off as the brother of Aladdin’s late father.

Abanazar convinces Aladdin and his mother of his goodwill by telling them his plan to establish Aladdin as a wealthy merchant. Abanazar’s real motive, however, is to have Aladdin retrieve a wonderful oil lamp from a magical cave for him.

After realising he’s been double-crossed, Aladdin finds himself trapped in the cave, but is thankfully able to call upon a genie (from a ring he is wearing) to help him. The lamp also has a genie, and upon returning home, Aladdin uses him to help his dreams become a reality. He marries Princess Yueliang, the daughter of the Dragon Empress of China, and moves into a magnificent palace.

However, Abanazar hasn’t forgotten about the lamp and is determined to have it at all costs. And so ensues the action, romance and adventure.

McKenna says this wildy entertaining genre “is a good old-fashioned form of entertainment that owes a lot to melodrama”.

Princess Yueliang (Dawn Wall) and Aladdin (Sébastien Bagot) For those not in the know about pantomime, it grew out of the Italian commedia dell’arte and quickly became a popular form of theatre in Britain in the 17th century. Since then it has evolved to adopt traditions from the British music hall and today it is always based on a familiar children’s fairytale such as Cinderella.

One of the key ingredients of pantomime is audience participation. Whenever an evil character takes the stage, for example, the audience is invited to boo, while they should cheer when the hero or heroine appear. It’s this running dialogue between cast and audience that makes pantomime a wonderfully interactive piece of theatre.

McKenna says at the heart of it, Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp is a feel-good show that offers the whole family a great night out. 

“A show like Aladdin hopefully has a decent moral to it and shows that if you work hard enough, you can achieve your heart’s desires and prove that love really does conquer all.”

Its appeal, says McKenna, is universal: “It’s aimed at ages five to 90, but please come if you’re over 100, or a well-behaved four-year-old!”

On Saturday and Sunday (12-13 January), there will also be an opportunity to get up and close with the actors and actresses after the show. Grab a picture with your favourite character or ask the villain to do his best evil laugh one more time.

For most Brits, the Christmas season isn’t complete without a trip to the panto, but that’s not to say other nationalities won’t be charmed by this form of theatre. 

So come and inject a little magic into your holiday season and experience what the panto is all about!

Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp
Krudttønden, Serridslevvej 2, Cph Ø; starts Wed, ends 27 Jan, performances Wed-Fri 19:00, Sat-Sun 15:00; Tickets: Adults 160kr, under-12s 120kr;