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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Anvil -Aladdin

13th December 2002 to 5th January 2003.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

What a cracker Toyah!

'ALADDIN', at The Anvil, Basingstoke, until January 5

Aladdin at the Anvil had all the ingredients for a fun-filled family panto. Audience participation abounded from the very first "oh no it's not" to the very last "he's behind you" and they adored it.

The setting is of course Beijing-Stoke (ouch, I know!), there were loads of local references and Widow Twankey was grateful to the "kind people who looked after her vehicle while it was parked on yellow lines leaving a note saying 'parking fine'". Yes the jokes may have been moan-making, but we all loved them.

Toyah Willcox was a splendid Aladdin, full of energy and pizzazz, easily winning the hearts of the exuberant youngsters as he sought the love of his princess (Kellie Ryan). Determined to thwart this plan is the scheming evil Abanaza (Stephen Paget). But not to fear, help is in the 'safe' hands of Wishee Washee (Richard Earl), who worked so well with the audience, even though he needed the help of the 'flying squad' much to the delight of all.

Christopher Lillicrap's Widow Twankey was a comic delight, each change of costume became more outrageously extreme and he really knew how to enthuse the audience, including Liz. Great stuff.

John Pennington was the perfect Emperor, a superb trouper, and a joy to watch perform.

Director Christopher Dunham had woven much magic into the production. The monster dragon turning into butterflies all lit by ultra violet lights was a beautiful surprise and the scene in the cave where the treasure is discovered and Aladdin is abandoned was an inventive and exciting moment. John Moeketsi Moabi was 'cool' as the funky; streetwise genie of the lamp and Kim Harvey was the curvaceous, all-American Genie of the ring, certainly one for the adults.

No panto would be complete without a slapstick routine and we certainly got masses of goo and mess in the Twanky laundry much to the delight and screams of encouragement from the kids.

The addition of some original songs would have been the icing on the cake on what was a thoroughly enjoyable cracker of an evening. Oh yes it was!