Drayton Entertainment is inviting audiences to take an enchanted carpet ride to the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse for a modern take on the classic story of Aladdin.
With a magic lamp, a genie, the beautiful Princess Jasmine and an evil sorcerer, Aladdin: The Panto takes the stage at the playhouse from Nov. 18 to Dec. 20, but creative director at Drayton Entertainment, Alex Mustakas, wants to assure theatre-goers, that the story is being told in a different way.
“A panto is a British tradition and mostly done in the holiday season. It is the kind of show that is a little bit interactive in the sense that the audience gets to ‘boo’ the bad guy and cheer the hero,” he said, adding that while the story is still fun, exciting and engaging, it won’t be the same as the family favourite Disney movie.
“Obviously, Aladdin is very well-known. One thing people should realize, it is not Disney or the storybook Aladdin. Last year, we did Snow White, we’ve done Robin Hood, we’ve done Peter Pan, so now it was time to do Aladdin.”
Mustakas says the show, like other pantos the company has performed, will appeal to an audience of all ages, with jokes for the adults, and bright dances and upbeat songs for the kids.
“One of the greatest joys we get is hearing from parents afterwards, for weeks and weeks afterwards, about how much the kids enjoyed the shows,” he said. “For some of them, it was their first live theatre experience and they don’t stop talking about it, but there is enough material in the show to appeal to adults as well. It injects topical humour – things that are going on around us in society – and the music itself, it is a whole mix of songs from new pop songs and older generation songs as well. It is a really neat genre.”The show has a children’s chorus, singing and dancing, moving the story along while the cast takes on the main roles in the show. Mustakas says the kids are getting the experience of a lifetime – working on a professional production.
“We have 36 kids and had over 200 audition. There are three groups of 12 that are rotated through the performance. It is a great life experience for them. They get to work with professionals, and they are treated that way as well. They learn a lot of dance numbers, they get to sing, and just have the time of their lives,” he said.
The kids are supported by a cast of Drayton Entertainment veterans, including Jamie McKnight who has had a role in plenty of other plays and performances. Mustakas says he makes the perfect leading man.
“He was the prince last year in Snow White, so he is a real favourite now with these pantos,” he said. “He has got an amazing voice, and is a real leading man type. He sings beautifully, he looks great, he dances – he does a little bit of everything.
“We have a number of Drayton favourites as well,” said Mustakas. “Pete Savage is playing The Dame, who is a character of a man, who plays a woman. He is one of the funniest actors we have. He is a real highlight of the show as well.”
Aladdin: The Panto runs for the next month at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. For a list of showtimes, to purchase tickets, or to learn more about the show and the cast, visit www.draytonentertainment.com.