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Review - Alladin

Loddon Players , ‘Aladdin’. January 2018. Loddon Church Hall.
Director - Jackie Bingham. Producer - Steve Burton. Choreographer/ MD - Vicky Codling.

Well, here we had one of the best ‘village’ pantomimes you could wish for, from the evocative opening music… The scene is set by big baddy, Mr. ‘Ave a banana’, Abanazer ((Howard Dover) who elicited the boos and hisses from an attentive and enthusiastic audience; believe me the way and audience react can make all the difference to a pantomime!
Good line “ I like my booze!!” (boos!)… Great costume too!
His intro was maybe a trifle long, but well interrupted by The Slave of the Ring ( Caroline Brown) who had a nice ‘Essex’ style of repartee and a cheeky opposing banter, with the wily Abanazer throughout with the running gag of her hunger and “Got anything to nibble on!” at every opportunity.

Of course we had the benefit of Widow Twankey ( Anthony Bunting ) once again playing that dame to die for, with all the necessary local jokes and innuendo plus extravagant costumes to complement his every entrance.
The whole cast were energised by the audience involvement and Widow Twanky was cheered even before he spoke!
Then that droll Norfolk accent, so recognisable over the years, had us all laughing at his every utterance…Great stuff!
Aladdin ( Lauren Gray) had a good stage presence and showed a nice reaction to his task as he was besotted and determined to impress his equally ‘in love’ Royal Princess Jasmin ( Rebekah Wick).

The Funky Feet Dancers were particularly prominent with some creative interpretive movement and smiles galore as they filled in any gaps and had some good up beat numbers, eg, ‘Kung Fu Fighting’.
Aladdin gave us “Don’t Stop Me Now” to fit to the story, and a very funny Chinese Laundry scene where the agile youngsters moved with speed and precision ending with a ‘flattened’ Wishee in the Auto ironing machine! This scene was a real highlight!

Wishee Washee (Beth Rose) as Aladdins brother, brought yet more audience responses as he/she asked them to ‘look after ‘ his mini Wee/tree, with a cry of “Wishee …you wanna wee!!”, he showed excellent timing and some great moments of audience interaction!
Maybe he could have had a more punchy line! But, enter Widow T again with a magnificent Peking costume and some good ‘old’ panto jokes some with local references which always go down well!
Aladdin of course was in love with Princess Jasmin who looked great and combined with Aladdin in a strong love duet with some great harmonies.

We had Police Inspector Chop ‘Nicker Nicker’ ( Peter Samain) “At last I see the light”.. with his three PPKPF Constables, ( Ruth Dunning, Jude Bissett, Pauline Mason), they delivered some well timed comedy routines throughout. And some irritating high pitched whistles!! They were great and worked well together.

I did think the cave entrance scene with Abanazer could have been a bit more creative…played in front of blacks it lost a bit of its impact on the story ! But never fear, we had a well dressed inner cave with Funky Feet once again showing their style as Jewel dancers.

And of course the Old Lamp produced the Genie ( Shane Baxter) on cue, arms folded with great genie shoes!
His just a tad sarcastic delivery, as he grants Aladdin his three wishes, was a nice touch… However it was our ever hungry Slave of The Ring who saved the day!
More dealings with “New Lamps for old “ from Abanazer who hopped and skipped when he recovered the lamp adding a funny “I feel nice”…you had to see it to understand!!

There were supporting roles from many old and some new cast members including Widow Twankeys ‘helpful’ friend Dolly Tubb (Carolyn Dover ), The Emperor (Adrian Chiverton ) and Empress (Vicki Blanchard ) plus Handmaiden ‘Blossom’ ( Gina Buntrock ).

We also had a ‘mystery guest’ all wrapped up and in scary movie mode as an Egyptian ‘Mummy ‘ (Ha !…we guessed !…it was of course Maureen Larkin ) cannot keep her away! The chorus played their part and as mentioned the Funky Feet Dancers really shone with some lively musical numbers ( from MD Vicky Codling).

They all clearly enjoyed their involvement in what was a very entertaining pantomime which left the audience drained of laughter, and they showed their appreciation for a great night’s traditional entertainment as they clapped and cheered along to the finale number (sorry I did not recognise it ?!), but no matter…the show had been a great success.

Review by: Terry Rymer (NODA Rep East Dist 6)