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Newbury YoungStars - Tin Pan Ali

1st to 2nd August 2008.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Witty new take on an old story

Newbury YoungStars: Tin Pan Ali, at Arlington Arts, Snelsmore, on Friday, August 1 and Saturday, August 2

Last weekend Arlington Arts Centre saw a cast of more than 30 youngsters singing and dancing in Newbury Youngstars' latest offering.

Tin Pan Ali written by Jeremy James follows the story of the Arabian Nights. However, in this witty tale, they move the setting to 1930s Chicago using street sweepers and gangsters to act out the story.

A lively opening set the standard of comedy for the evening and the young cast, directed by Mike Cound, took full advantage of the witty script, which was also complemented by excellent costumes and a simple and effective set.

We follow the fortunes of street-sweeping Ali Baba, played very competently by Paul Holland, who, by chance, discovers the hiding place of many stolen treasures belonging to the gangster boss Al Carooni, played by Dimitri Rogers.

Dimitri particularly shone in the second act, adopting guises in an attempt to steal back his loot. As with many a happy ending, Al Carooni turns out to be Ali Baba's father and the treasures end up staying in the Baba family.

A large young cast does have its difficulties to overcome and I felt that, in some scenes, a little more energy and movement from the cast could have made the evening a bit more dynamic.

The pace was also slowed owing to a significant amount of dialogue being forgotten, together with the sound operation which was atrocious and proved distracting for the audience and, even, the cast at times.

That said, having a lot of youngsters does mean the pickings are rich and a lot of smaller parts were played extremely well.

Reece Broughton brought out the comedy as the Sultan. Peggy Slater with limited dialogue maintained her character as Doll the Moll excellently and Adam West sang beautifully as Sesame.

However, my personal highlight were the Baba grandparents Emily Sinfield and Lee Slater, both capturing the characters fantastically and making the most of their comedy timing.

Another delightful moment was a well-choreographed Dust Cart Rag, cleverly using good old wheelie bins as dance partners. Wheel done.

The hard work and effort from all involved was appreciated by a very receptive audience.