The Alhambra Theatre, Morley Street, Bradford BD7 1AJ
Runs until Sunday 20 January 2019
Running Time 2 hours 15 mins including a 15 minute interval
Tickets from: www.bradford-theatres.co.uk
Telephone 01274 432000
Review by Graham Clark Tuesday 11 December
The Bradford Pantomime at the Alhambra Theatre is regarded as the one of the best pantos around. Yorkshire comedian Billy Pearce this year is making his 20th appearance in this spectacular and magical panto. He has become such an integral part of the Bradford tradition that it would not be the same without him.
His years of working the Bradford audiences holds him in good stead and the rapport he has with the audience is timeless just like his perfect comic timing. Generations have watched him over the years and you can see why he is so popular.
The Bradford Sunbeams too are unique to the Alhambra and these young dancers never missed a step which cannot be easy when dancing in a stage that had the whole cast on as in one scene.
David O’Mahony as Abanazar opens up the show – part villain and part baddie with a likeable side he was perfectly cast. Christopher Biggins as Widow Twankey arrives on stage via a huge birthday cake, as he steps out he greets the audience ” Hello Bradford” – it felt like he was thrilled to be there. He had more costume changes than a Milan fashion show, mind you they are never as Colourful as these!
The whole auditorium lights up when Billy Pearce as Wishee Washee arrives on stage with his familiar “Hiya Kids” refrain. You can instantly see why the producers are reluctant not to have him year after year in the show. Some of his jokes might be as old as the Yorkshire hills but if you hear them for the first time or the tenth time his delivery makes them sound so fresh.
I was sceptical that Simon Webb from the pop group Blue might not be right to play Aladdin but no worries here – his facial expressions and convincing role added to the magic. He even gets to sing one of Blue’s big hits – One Love.
One of the big songs from this year is This Is Me from the film The Greatest Showman, the song appears in the panto but with different words and is re invented with a new title – I’m Wishee as Pearce sings gleefully. Whoever came up with this deserves a medal.
The Genie of the Lamp has a Yorkshire accent that sounds like he comes from Barnsley and not Peking!
Sarah Goggin as Princess Jasmine was all innocence and charm with a good singing voice whilst Carl Sanderson played a good version of Emperor Ming.
Emily Beth Harrington as Scheherazade was always perfectly cast too.
The special effects were amazing that ranged from a flying magic carpet that flies over the audience with a 360 degree turn at the end of the first half, to a stunning 3D Sequence or as Pearce puts it “this is the bit where you get your money’s worth!”
Lively and vibrant it was everything a pantomime should be. There are enough jokes in there to keep you going to next year, including a few jokes for the older mums and dads.
Billy Pearce is still king of the panto. A joy from beginning to end.
Billy Pearce – Wishee Washee
Christopher Biggins – Widow Twankey
Simon Webbe – Aladdin
Carl Sanderson – Emperor Ming
Sarah Goggin – Princess Jasmine
David O’Mahony – Abanazar
Emily Beth Harrington – Scheherazade
Musical Director – James McCullagh
Director- Ed Curtis
Choreographer – Stillie Dee
Written by – Alan McHugh with additional material by Billy Pearce