Review & Top Tips | Gala Theatre Durham Panto 2019

Disclosure: We were provided with press tickets

Review & Top Tips | Gala Theatre Durham Panto 2019

Gala Theatre Durham Panto |  Overview & tickets

This year's Christmas Panto is Aladdin and runs from 21 November - 5 January. Tickets are available from £7 - £18 (£54 - £62 for a family ticket) which I would say is a mid-range price to pay for a panto.

Written and directed by Gala favourites Neil Armstrong and Paul Hartley, the show is loosely based around the classic tale of Aladdin. I am super excited for this panto as we absolutely loved last years show (scroll to the bottom of this post for a review). It was the perfect mix of comedy and traditional panto and doesn't take itself too seriously!

The seats are all super comfy here and it's very relaxed - you are allowed to take your own sweets in with you for example.

I am especially excited this year as I know one of the cast members this year and she has the most incredible voice - a little claim to fame for me.

Gala Theatre Durham Panto | Where to park

I'm not overly familiar with Durham and when we do visit, we usually use the park and ride but this closes at 7pm so isn't recommended for evening performances. Alternatively, we've often caught the train into Durham and the station isn't too far to walk from the theatre.

I asked my friend and local Durham-girl Katie Jane for city centre parking recommendations and Katie recommended Walkergate Car Park which is right by the theatre. There are 500 spaces here and parking is £3 for 2-4 hours or £5 for 4-6 hours.

Gala Theatre Durham Panto | Where to eat

If you're heading to a matinee performance, there's a cafe inside of the theatre serving light bites, snacks and sandwiches from 10am-3pm Monday-Friday and 10am-5pm Saturday.

I am pleased to see that the cafe is part of the National Refill Scheme and will refill your water bottle free of charge during cafe opening hours.

In the Walkergate complex (which is right next to the Gala Theatre), you'll find lots of family-friendly restaurants such as Chiquito, Nandos and ASK. Personally, I'd prefer to walk the 5 minutes into town and check out Fat Hippo Durham or Zapatistas - both North East chains who serve fab kids meals and are super tasty.

Review & Top Tips | Gala Theatre Durham Panto - pre-theatre dining at Fat Hippo Durham
Fat Hippo Durham

It's an easy two-minute walk into town from the Gala Theatre and it's worth it to have a quick look at the Christmas lights before the show and maybe pop into a coffee shop for a hot chocolate if you have time. We stopped by Treats which was really lovely.

Review & Top Tips | Gala Theatre Durham Panto 2018 | Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Hot Chocolate from Treats, Durham 
Zapatisa Durham

Aladdin - 2019 Panto Review

Merchandise & Bar Prices

One reason I absolutely love the Gala Theatre is that they don't try and rip their customers off. You won't find any bag searches with sweets being confiscated and you are welcome to take your own inside the theatre which is refreshing.

Bar prices are reasonable (pop £2, popcorn £2.50, coffee £2) and merchandise is really well priced for a theatre with flashy toys being a fraction of what they were at the arena earlier in the week. 

Gala Theatre Seating 

The staff are lush at the Gala Theatre, they will help you find your seat and there is lots of room when compared with older theatres. Kids can help themselves to a booster seat near the auditorium entrance. The atmosphere is super relaxed here - kids shout and sing along and it is definitely a panto which doesn't take itself too seriously.

Aladdin Review 

Ah we loved the Gala's twist on Aladdin and it was the perfect way to kick off panto season for us. Friday night was just the second showing of the performance and I would say it ran around 20 minutes over. Generally, things do quicken up as they get more in the flow of things.

The Gala Theatre Panto never takes itself too seriously and is pretty relaxed - Aladdin was no exception. The cast had a brilliant rapport with the kids and audience (hello Kyle!) and it is definitely a panto where the audience is very much part of the show. At one point the whole cast was climbing through the stalls.

Credit - Gala Durham

Aladdin is a brilliant all-rounder and had every aspect you expect from a proper Northern panto - a live band, local jokes, stunning vocals from Eleanor Chaganis as Princess Jasmine and David Hosie as Aladdin and an eclectic set of costumes which ranged from a Mariachi Band to Egyptian Mummies.

We laughed out loud and laughed hard on numerous occasions. Special mentions have to go to Tiddles the Torturing Cat (and Turbo Tiddles), the petulant Camel and the kids who played the mummies, they were excellent - give these kids a show of their own!

Credit - Gala Durham

Neil Armstrong is a brilliant baddie and plays Abanazar with ease - it is like he was born to play the role. I caught myself booing along with the kids on more than one occasion. Loved the addition of the War of the Worlds music. Nice touch and a change from the usual panto medleys.

Paul Hartley as Wishy-Washy and  Paul Dunn as Widow Twanky are just the perfect comedy double act - look out for the quicksand sketch. Comedy gold!

Oh I have to mention the Genie too - loved how she floated about the stage and her cheeky attitude. She was a real favourite with the kids. There is a touch of magic in Aladdin too and the children in the audience were super wowed as Aladdin magically flew above our heads.

Credit - Gala Theatre

Aladdin is a perfect panto for all ages - there was a grannie two rows in front of us crying with laughter and equally, the toddlers in the audience had a brilliant time. There are a couple of scary scenes where Ebenazar has a gun and another where he almost chops Aladdin's head off but nothing too menacing.

Aladdin feels like a Panto which offers superb value for money - tickets are available from £7. For a show of this quality, this feels like a steal.

I have been trying to think of a negative but I honestly can't think of one - perhaps that there isn't a traditional messy scene but this really is clutching at straws. If you have tickets, rest assured, you will be in for a brilliant few hours of pure entertainment.

Gala Theatre are running a special offer (see below) if you have a teacher training day coming up. You can check prices for other dates and book online here.  


1 comment

  1. Thanks for the great review Sam. We have gone to the Durham panto for the last 5 years. We always know that it's going to be a great show and it's reasonably priced too. Can't wait to go at the end od December. Xxx


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