REVIEW: Cheers aplenty for panto classic

Widow Twankey, New Mills panto. Photo contributed.
Widow Twankey, New Mills panto. Photo contributed.
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A DELIGHTED audience buoyed by the youthful vocal talents of the very excited 3rd New Mills Brownies and Rainbows greatly enjoyed the production of Aladdin by New Mills Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society on Saturday night along with myself at the lovely New Mills Art Theatre.

It was a magical and mystical tale of romance, riches and jest worthy of the sincere applause at the end of the evening with boos and cheers aplenty. Sticking to the well-known lamp-filled yarn of old, Aladdin played by Hannah Hyde set off for his fortune and the hand in marriage of the love of his life Princess Balraubadour – someone easy to fall in love with when portrayed by the girlie-voiced Lindsay Radford.

As always seems to happen in local pantomimes, things don’t go quite according to plan and Director Dianne Aspinall, whose last show this will be, had injected twists and turns and eye-popping magic to ensure that the course of true love didn’t run smoothly.

Evil Uncle Abanazar, the booming creation of regular Barry Aspinall, cut an imposing and somewhat confusing character. First he appeared to help Aladdin, then he used his considerable magic to help himself.

Aladdin was not alone on his quest, ably assisted by Mum Widow Twankey, Darren Cooper’s engaging and warm Dame, and the constantly twitching squeaky-voiced loveable fool that was Rob Brittles’ Wishee Washee. The boy found himself richer than a fat-cat banker, but was he happy?

The hapless Brummie Genie of the Ring, Angie Hulme did her best to help out too, but often rendered the lad with more problems.

She even conjured up the TARDIS from Who knows where. However, her humour and warmth endeared her to Aladdin and the audience. Barry Jarvis, when not the Emperor desperately running from the affections of Widow Twankey – he granted wishes with ease as the all powerful Genie of the Lamp.

The songs were all confidently delivered, even the solos, under the guidance of a tight band and ranged from 1970s Village People standards to Take That’s recent hits.

Alice Bowden’s Sing Lo sung most sweetly, just like the chariot! Dawn Lister’s choreography ensured that vibrant dancers filled the stage with colour and energy; it was clear to see how much the young dance troupe enjoyed their performance.

Father and son police officers, the serious Charlie and simple minded Chin-Chin Chan (John Reezzer and James Ash), delivered a fun-filled Kung-Fu skit and their comical policing was much more Dim-Son than Dim-Sum.

Exquisite set designs ranged from detailed vistas to beautiful palaces and brought to life the gem that is the New Mills Art Theatre. Itself an Aladdin’s Cave, the Theatre is a true joy to visit bringing a warm feeling inside even on the coldest of winter’s nights.

This panto will cheer your frosty heart and will let you know a few facts that you didn’t realise that you needed to learn. For instance, you’ll find out how to hide a 20-stone Panda, played by the acrobatic Pauline Carver.

Also you’ll find out what happens when you don’t follow washing instructions when using your new machine, and Peking’s answer to Chatsworth House is revealed.

Aladdin will be performed again at the 500-seater Art Theatre on Thursday February 2, Friday February 3 and Saturday February 4, each evening at 7.15pm, with a Saturday matinee at 2.15pm.

Tickets, priced £8.50 for adults, £6.50 for children and £42.50 for a box seating five people, are available from the box office on 01663 742951.

David Carlisle