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

The Anvil - Aladdin

11th December 2008 to 4th January 2009.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Comic capers a hit with the kids

Colourful Aladdin connects with a young audience

Aladdin, at The Anvil, Basingstoke, until January 4

If a colourful traditional panto is what you're after, then Aladdin at The Anvil will certainly please. Director Ian Good and writer Andy Ryan served up an abundance of energy, gags and audience participation on this menu.

My eight-year-old daughter Hannah and I had a great time, and she definitely connected with the characters. The familiar face of CBeebies' Pui Fan Lee playing Aladdin helped, as did Home and Away's Ray Meagher, who's dastardly Abanazar was just right for a younger audience. Francesca Leyland gave a good performance as Princess Jasmine and sang delightfully.

I was surprised by the inclusion of a few songs from Disney's Aladdin, and would have liked to have seen a more imaginative selection. That said, the mix of songs seemed to please the audience, especially with a High School Musical finale.

However, what tickled Hannah's panto taste buds most were the comical characters. Billy Boyle's softer dame Widow Twankey worked well, but the highlight of the show was Noel Brodie's dynamic Wishee Washee. An absolute natural with children, his quick-witted spontaneity often kept the pace going.

We enjoyed other great characters too, such as a wonderfully silly Pc Pong, played by Byron Mondahl, and a bouncy slave of the ring played by Emily Alexander, who performed a vibrant Could It Be Magic while Aladdin rode an impressive flying carpet.

There were plenty of gags and one of our favourite scenes was in the laundry, where we saw poor Wishee Washee being given the mangle and washing machine treatment to encourage more laughs.

This was good family fun, and while it relied on particular cast members for the energy and pace, the end result was much to the enjoyment of young and old.

The pacier second act left us all on a high and I am sure there will be a few hoarse throats from the many excited (and deafening) children.


There is a review in The Stage: "while this production offers all the necessary ingredients for traditional pantomime, there is not quite enough dynamism from the script itself to give the show the real lift that it needs... the cast works hard at what is sometimes a laborious task and the missed creative opportunities for slapstick comedy and fast-moving action leave them plodding along and relying solely on their own abilities" - Julie Watterston.

This is from the Andover Advertiser: "this glittering panto sets out unashamedly to entertain in traditional style, and succeeds brilliantly... a lively, colourful, dazzlingly-costumed extravaganza, which will keep everyone buzzing in the festive season".