Steve Collins and his family enjoy an ‘all-singing, all-dancing family panto’ at The Bristol Hippodrome

Wow, what a ride! If you’re looking for a thrilling, all-singing, all-dancing, family panto with special effects, star names and plenty of laughs, then look no further than Aladdin at The Bristol Hippodrome. This is pantomime on a grand scale that makes the most of the size and splendour of the grand old Hippodrome, combining old school tradition and special effects superbly.

Of course, we all know the story of Aladdin, the poor boy who falls in love with the ruler’s daughter, then seeks fortune with the help of the genie in the lamp while fighting off the evil influence of the sourcerer Abanazar. What you might not expect is a giant gorilla and evil serpant, a real flying carpet, 3D graphics and a 10ft genie with an unashamedly Bristolian accent my lovers.

Central to the action are star turns comedian Joe Pasquale as Wishee Washee and 90’s pop star Marti Pellow as Abanazar, and much to their credit, both are excellent. Within no time, Pasquale had made himself a firm favourite of both my children and most of the audience, with his super-silly antics and risque jokes. It’s great to see a panto lead who really does look comfortable on stage in front of a large crowd, and Pasquale clearly is the real deal. Here’s a comedian with real timing and stage craft, armed with a series of props that saw her riding a motorised toilet around the stage, being carried around by a giant gorilla, dressed as a ballet dancer and of course squirting the audience with a water pistol.

Meanwhile, Marti Pellow as Abanazar played the villian perfectly, soaking up the boos and delivering the evil spells with suitably melodramatic glea, and even introducing a touch of charm into the role.

Elsewhere, Hayley Tamaddon as Princess Jamine and Alexis Gerred as Aladdin were superb as the young lovers and inevitable foils of Pasquale’s tomfoolery, both bringing a confidence and freshness to the parts, as well as superb singing voices.

Alongside the principal actors, it was the special effects that grabbed the attention. Right from the start, with the giant gorilla Kong looming over the stage, the stakes were set high. While the 3D sequence set in Egypt was impressive, it was the stunning magic carpet ride that really delivered, with Wishee Washee and Aladdin soaring out from the stage over the audience, and even achieving a mightily impressive loop.

Throughout the performance, my three children were spellbound by the effects, laughing at the jokes and joining in with the inevitable ‘Oh no you’re nots’ with an enthusiasm that only children can. Except that in this instance, there were plenty of grown-ups joining in too.

If you’re looking for pantomime on a grand scale, look no further than Aladdin at The Bristol Hippodrome. It runs until 7 January 2018. More details here.