If you’ve ever wished you could see a real flying carpet, Aladdin is about to make your dreams come true – and give you a great night out into the bargain.
That’s because the Inverurie Panto aims to make its glittering festive offering a treat for all the family to remember, said producer Keith Donaldson.
“I hope audiences will have a great time,” he said. “I hope they laugh until they fall off their seats or have tears running down their faces,” he said.
One of the key ingredients of the Inverurie panto is its ambitious use of special effects. So when they chose to do Aladdin, Keith knew the flying carpet would be front and centre stage – and flying above it.
“We have gone all out on that effect,” he revealed. “We’ve employed a local engineer, Martin Innes, who has designed the illusion to within an inch of its life, custom-manufactured to our specification.
“People will see a magic flying carpet, transporting Aladdin and Jasmine through the air. It will look amazing.”
Of course, the effects are just part of the fun for the panto, which will run in Inverurie Town Hall from this Saturday right through to Christmas Eve.
“This year we’ve changed the setting,” said Keith. “Aladdin is traditionally a Chinese pantomime, but when Disney did the animated film in 1992, they moved it to Arabia, so we’ve done the same thing this time – but will still have our usual twists, there’s a lot of Doric in there.
“The dame and her son have emigrated from Inverurie to Arabia, taking their sun-tanning business with them, and chaos ensues.”
Aladdin will, of course, include a heady mix of song-and-dance numbers, from almost every genre.
“We have classics and modern classics, everything from rock and pop and might even have a tune from The Greatest Showman – which I think every panto in the country might have,” Keith added, laughing.
“But the songs are just so good and we want to do it justice.”
The humour throughout the show will be very Doric, but also very family friendly.
Keith said: “You should never be embarrassed to take your children to the show. We aim for it to be for children and adults, but good, clean fun.”
As enchanting as Aladdin will be, it doesn’t just happen by magic. It’s the result of months of hard work by the dedicated team of both the cream of the north-east amateur theatre scene on stage and behind the scenes.
“There’s so much talent in the north-east, it’s almost frightening,” Keith said. “The kids and the principals are all working hard, but having a great time. There are lots of laughs. One of my favourite things is listening to the laughter that occurs during rehearsals.”
That level of dedication is enhanced by the fact everyone involved is an amateur, holding down day jobs while making Aladdin happen. But for all that, Keith says Inverurie prides itself on having professional standards.
“Every year, we try to make the show better than the year before. We work to make it bigger and brighter and funnier,” he said.
This is the 11th panto to be brought to Inverurie Town Hall by Keith and his team. Over the years, his view of the essential ingredients of a successful pantomime hasn’t changed.
“At the very beginning, I made the conscious decision to lead the team down a traditional panto path, and we still follow that,” he said.
“There are core components in any panto that people look for and expect. First of all, it has to be funny. I think it has to be family-friendly and it should be bright and colourful. We do stick to traditional stories, but we try to bring it up to date, while retaining those core components that identify us as the Inverurie panto.”
Which may account for the massive appeal of the Inverurie panto, which has seen more than 94% of its tickets snapped up, even before the curtain is raised on Saturday.
“Our audience comes from all over the north-east – from Stonehaven, Montrose, Peterhead and Fraserburgh,” Keith said. “Only about a third of our core audience comes from the Inverurie area. If you give a good show, they will come back or tell friends.”
But no matter how far or near you’ve travelled, Keith has a fairly simple wish for everyone in the audience.
“There is so much nonsense going on in the world, I want people to come in, suspend belief for a couple of hours, have a good time and enjoy themselves,” he said.