THE opening night of the Aladdin pantomime at the Dolman Theatre went off splendidly.

A unique take on the classic story sees the events take place in Peking, and rather than being an orphan, Aladdin still has mum Widow Twanky, who owns a laundrette and Chinese takeaway.

The show features references to popular culture including Star Wars and there are many jokes for the children and adults alike. It was a laugh a minute from start to finish and the musical numbers were witty and quirky.

There were a lot of references to local and current affairs including Newport County’s efforts in the FA Cup, Donald Trump and Brexit and a heart-warming moment near the end of the performance when a group of children were invited onto the stage to join in.

Gerald Needs played the role of pantomime villain Abanazar well, using his wit to engage the audience in his treacherous plans. If you can imagine Dick Dastardly combined with Jafar, then you have a sense of what to expect.

There could not have been a better choice than Shanika Siriwardena to play the Empress, she brought grace and elegance to the stage and added to the humour when needed.

Unlike in the original story, we were treated to two magical beings as Lewis Arnold’s Genie of the lamp was joined by Slave of the ring Elysia Dimitrakis – both of whom sung incredible solos and had people talking in rhyme throughout.


Nathan Taylor put on an excellent show as Widow Twanky, Emily Lloyd performed well as handmaiden to Princess Mandarin So-Shy, with the princess being played splendidly by Brooke Seer. The titular character was performed well by Lee-Rose Walsh, who made sure that Aladdin was as lovable and mischievous as ever.

The people who stole the show, however, were Darian Thomas as Aladdin’s brother Wishee Washee, Ryan Salter and Nick Brimble as Peking Policemen Hu Dun Pong and Yu Dun Wong – the trio’s comedic antics had the audience young and old in stitches throughout.

A special mention has to go to the Vanessa Clark dancers and the ensemble for their wonderful performances that added an extra special element to the story and performance.

Newport Pantomime Society have put on another splendid production and you can catch the show running daily at 7pm until Saturday, February 22. Tickets for all performances are £12 and there will be an additional matinee performance on Saturday at 2pm.

Tickets are available from the Dolman Theatre by calling the box office on 01633 263670 or visiting

By Elizabeth Birt