So last night hubby and I took our little boy to see his first panto at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford as part of our traditional Christmas celebrations.

Directed by Thom Southerland and starring Wet Wet Wet’s Marti Pellow as the evil Abanazar, Aladdin was loosely based on the popular children’s story. Set in ‘Old Peking’ and featuring traditional pantomime characters including Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee the show was jam packed full of comedy, adventure and fun.

Stephanie Elstob in Aladdin at The Orchard Theatre. Credit Luke Varley DL

We enjoyed watching a huge stage sized mechanical gorilla and snake, genie puppet and flying magical carpet. There was even a 3D Experience! This panto simply had it all.

We collected our 3D glasses at the start of Act 2 and hopped aboard the magic carpet for ourselves on our own virtual journey defying spiders, snakes, rocks and fire. 

A big big word of warning though; Whilst the age restriction for this show is from 3 years, this panto can be scary for young children and we were told by staff to prepare our 3 year old in advance. He did find the 3D experience frightening and wouldn’t wear the glasses but we didn’t have any tears and no nightmares that night either. That said, we did have some crying children in the rows in front of us.

David Robbins and the company of Aladdin at The Orchard Theatre. Credit Luke Varley DL

To reassure parents going  to this with young children, here is a spoiler alert for anyone who would like to know in advance when the scary parts are, particularly if you are sat near the front:-

*The beginning of the show starts with a loud bang, quite literally out of nowhere. Be warned those of a nervous disposition as it even made me jump!

*A stage sized gorilla soon after the show opens.

*The 3D Experience in Act 2

*A stage sized snake towards the end of the show.

We found that with the warning, we could prepare Little Man a bit more and other than the 3D Experience, he was as happy and content clapping, singing and dancing to all of the songs and soaked up the Christmas party atmosphere.

My son’s review of the show:- ‘I didn’t like the naughty one (Abanazar) but I really liked Wishee!’

My personal favourite was Wishee Washee too played by Britain’s Got Talent’s Ricky K and Widow Twankey played by David Robbins as a close second, (who I should point out designed all his own wonderfully flamboyant costumes for the show). Their comedic and cheesy lines definitely had us laughing out loud.

Alexis Gerred and Stephanie Elstob in Aladdin at The Orchard Theatre. Credit Luke Varley DL

By the end, we were all joining in with the songs and it was such a lovely family evening. We were so pleased that It was worth our little one staying up past his bedtime!

If you’re looking for a good family night out this Christmas, the panto is definitely a winner!

Feeling super excited for Christmas now!

Head over to the Orchard Theatre website to book your tickets. The pantomime is on until 30th December 2018.

Until next time

Charlotte x 

Dartford Living Volunteer and Owner of BipBopShop