"McKellen's Widow Twankey in Aladdin a Hit With London Critics" — James Inverne, Playbill
"But it's Sir Ian's Widow Twankey who steals the show. Striding on stage in a coat of colours, Sir Ian launches into what is virtually a stand-up routine. 'You know who I am,' he declares triumphantly, before embarking on a hugely funny monologue."
Ben Sutherland, BBC News
"I don't think I have ever seen an actor more manifestly delighted to be on stage than Sir Ian McKellen, dolled up to the nines in drag as Widow Twankey in the Old Vic panto."
Charles Spencer, The Telegraph
"The great thing about McKellen is that he brings on a genuine whiff of old music-hall: all that time in his northern youth spent watching Norman Evans and Suzette Tarri has clearly not gone to waste."
Michael Billington, The Guardian
"McKellen is clearly having terrific fun and so, much of the time, are we."
Benedict Nightingale, The Times
"There is something genuinely infectious about the relish with which McKellen throws himself into the part, modelling a succession of outrageous outfits and attempting to strike a balance between lewd double entendre and starry-eyed innocence."
Paul Taylor, The Independent
"McKellen's lovely performance is at the heart of an attractive show. "
Sarah Hemming, Financial Times
"Sir Ian McKellen triumphantly slipped into several hideous dresses and wild wigs, assorted high-heels and low jokes yesterday and emerged as a dragartist sublime in Bille Brown's new pantomime script of Aladdin."
Nicholas de Johng, The Evening Standard
"Any actress of the year award must be in doubt after the arrival of a new, taut-calved lady of the boards — Sir Ian McKellen"
Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
"Dame Edna Everage should be shaking in her stilettos. A new star has risen on the horizon of theatrical damehood, and she is wondrous to behold. Deep of voice, brawny of frame, fierce of face and fleet of dancing foot, the newly self-ennobled Dame Twankey bestrides the stage of the Old Vic Theater here like a Pucci-wrapped colossus. You may of course know her better by her civilian name: Lady Ian ... oops, I mean, Sir Ian McKellen."
Ben Brantley, The New York Times
"Merrier high jinks are on tap at the Old Vic . . . This cheeky romp features Ian McKellen as a lady, the Widow Twankey, whose gaudy flamboyance could give Dame Edna a run for her money. Breezily directed by the versatile Sean Mathias, the production also includes original music by Gareth Valentine, who tips his hat to genres ranging from opera to jazz to swing. (There also is an Elton John tune, the spirited I Believe In You, with lyrics by Lee Hall.)"
Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY
Photos by Manuel Harlan/PA