The Corn Exchange, Newbury
0845 5218 218 (calls will cost 2p per minute plus your telephone company’s Access Charge)
The Corn Exchange, Newbury. Visitor information is here. Some performances may be at The Base, Communications Road, Greenham Business Park, Greenham, RG19 6HN. Unless a specific location is given for a performance, it's at the Corn Exchange.
Pride and Prejudice, 14th July, 19:00, at Welford Park
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen’s witty and romantic masterpiece is one of the best-loved stories of all time, dealing with the most important questions in life… Will Mrs Bennett manage to offload her numerous daughters in record time? Will Lizzy and Darcy actually get together? Will creepy Mr Collins just go away please? Join The Pantaloons this summer for this delightfully innovative and hilarious new adaptation.
The Importance of Being Earnest, 15th July, 19:00, at Welford Park
Slapstick Picnic would like to cordially invite you to its inaugural summer tea party, where marvellous feats of performance and culinary capers await. Over tea and cucumber sandwiches, we ask that you prepare to witness the impossible - the entirety of Oscar Wilde’s classic play of manners, affairs and handbags being performed by just two rather dashing entertainers. From the creators of The HandleBards comes a fantastically wild(e) new production, ripping up the recipe book and celebrating silliness. With Slapstick Picnic, you can have your cake and eat it.
The Great Gatsby, 1st August, 15:00, at Shaw House
Join Heartbreak Productions and the Nick Carraway quartet for an afternoon of jazz, prohibition-style. Nick is not only the band leader but a top-notch storyteller, and when he’s in the mood, he can take you back to the summer of 1922 when he lived next door to none other than the infamous Jay Gatsby. So get your glad rags on, work up your best Charleston, and get your cocktail glass at the ready! Served up with a twist of iconic Heartbreak style, this outdoor adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is the perfect way to mark 100 years since prohibition. Dress for the weather, bring a chair or blanket to sit on, and don’t forget the picnic and prosecco (now that prohibition has been lifted!).
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 5th August, 19:00, at Bucklebury C of E Primary School
Shakespeare’s hilarious and fantastical comedy is upcycled and re-wired for the environmental generation. In a world of topsy-turvy climate, the fairies are as chaotically mischievous as ever and magic and mayhem befalls any mortal brave enough to venture into the mystical wood. With hapless environmentalists, warring fairies and confused lovers all being led astray by the mischievous Puck join Heartbreak Productions for Shakespeare's perfectly scripted outdoor-theatre favourite.
Reviews of Aladdin
3rd December 2020 to 3rd January 2021
Review from the Newbury Weekly News and the British Theatre Guide.
Just what we all needed
Corn Exchange panto Aladdin gets Newbury in the Christmas spirit
Aladdin, at the Corn Exchange, Newbury, until January 3
It’s panto time at the Corn Exchange – oh yes, it is! – and it’s wonderful to be back in the theatre that has been transformed with new seating and is Covid-19 secure.
There was much excitement in the audience as we entered the beautifully decorated auditorium, with hanging coloured lanterns and strings of lights to help us get in to the Christmas spirit. Refreshingly modern and wittily written by Plested and Brown, we prepared to take off on a magic carpet ride adventure in this year’s stunning production of Aladdin.
With a bright, sparkling set and glittering costumes, the exceedingly hard-working and strong cast filled the stage with festive cheer as they welcomed us with the opening number I'll Be There For You – and we are so glad they are.
Ben Harlow is the decidedly nasty Abanazar, a dead ringer for Joe Exotic in his animal print costume – certainly the villain who is determined to find Aladdin for assistance in his evil plans to find the magic lamp.
He has an Apple watch to help him. Well, it’s a watch with a real apple that he uses to summon Celia Siri (the delightful Emily-Mae) to help him.
Every panto needs a Dame and Philip Elvy returns this year as Widow Twankey who runs the laundry, giving a brilliant performance with every costume change more outlandish than the last.
Her son Aladdin, the charming, charismatic, rollerskating George Olney from Hungerford, who first made his stage appearance in Newbury as junior cast member over 13 years ago, is impressive.
He has fallen in love with Princess Jasmine (Nikita Johal) and is determined to find a way to enter the palace, ingeniously hiding in a huge Amazon box and hopes to marry her. Susan Harrison gave an exuberant portrayal as Wishee Washee, played as a cheeky dog with a risqué, bubbly performance that everyone loved.
Her improvised rap, using the names of youngsters who had birthdays, was so clever utilising her experience as a member of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical.
Aladdin is tricked by Abanazar to climb down into the cave to retrieve the magical lamp and meets Gerald the ginger Genie (Ben Barrow), who is hilarious.
But how to escape and find Princess Jasmine while the rest of the cast travel by plane? Aladdin uses a magic carpet in a spectacular flying scene (now how did they do that?).
There is excellent support from Gleanne Purcell Brown and William Beckerleg, who had us all exercising as Joe Wicks in a workout session.
Adam Brown’s spirited direction is playful, fun and bang up to date, with loads of local references and groan-making jokes.
There is so much to enjoy in this spectacular show for both adults and families – it’s a must-see show and an absolute Christmas tonic.
Review of Adult Night from the Newbury Weekly News.
Newbury Corn Exchange Aladdin Adult Night delivers
No near-the-knuckle jokes missed here
Aladdin, Adult Night, at the Corn Exchange, on Saturday, December 12
Deft, Daft and Defiant, Plested and Brown’s Aladdin at The Corn Exchange, Newbury is the most unlikely of events, which hits home towards the end of the show when Flight-Crew-cum-Fairy-Godmother-cum-Digital-Assistant Celia Siri triumphantly exclaims: “we did a panto in a pandemic!”.
This distinctly British tradition, with its roots in 15th century Italian theatre, blended with the bawdy brashness of Music Hall, has become the mainstay of local venues every Christmas and is usually central to financial survival. This is why, in any other year, there are literally thousands to choose from in small towns, big cities and in the West End.
But this is 2020, when there are perhaps little more than 50 productions nationwide and what a showstopper this is. With the spectre of Covid over everything in our lives (with the distinctly boozy ‘Adult Night’ crowd in booths, masks on, having passed through a temperature check) it would be easy to allow it to dominate the performance. However, instead we are treated to a script which gives us every touchstone of the year, from Netflix hits (Tiger King) to political misses (Barnard Castle), delivered by a cast who relish every turn!
Whether singing classics like Tom Lehrer’s I Got it from Agnes or delivering more contemporary moments of fourth-wall breaking buffoonery, their unswerving exuberance is (like whatever Dame Twankey is actually talking about in Lehrer’s song) utterly infectious.
True to the origins of Pantomime, everyone has an opportunity to showcase individual talents, whether that’s roller-skating, saxophone and improvisation, or singing, dancing and comedy. None of the near-the-knuckle jokes that would usually fly over any kids in the audience are missed here, but neither is there a forced effort to make the show more ‘adult’, which shows excellent judgement from the whole company.
Speaking to some of the audience in the interval, it is clear that these special grown-up performances have become a tradition in and of themselves, and in a year in which we have had to give up so much, a sense of normality and the desire to relax and have a good time has never been more important.
That aside, Aladdin delivers on every level: it’s panto-sparkle, sharp satire, silliness and sass will raise a smile on any face and remind you of the magic of live entertainment, which we have missed so much.
There is a review from Wokingham Today ("the entire theatre has been decked out in Oriental trappings, the painted backdrops are wonderfully evocative, and the magic carpet in particular made my jaw drop").
For more details
see the Corn Exchange web site at www.cornexchangenew.com.
Sleeping Beauty, 29th November 2019 to 4th January 2020. See the review in the archive.
Great Expectations, 6th to 7th September 2019. See the review in the archive.
Jack and the Beanstalk, 30th November 2018 to 6th January 2019. See the reviews in the archive.
Beauty and the Beast, 1st December 2017 to 7th January 2018. See the reviews in the archive.
Cinderella, 25th November to 31st December 2016. See the review in the archive.
Dick Whittington, 27th November 2015 to 3rd January 2016. See the reviews in the archive.
Aladdin, 28th November 2014 to 4th January 2015. See the reviews in the archive.
Jack and the Beanstalk, 29th November 2013 to 5th January 2014. See the reviews in the Archive.
Cinderella, 30th November 2012 to 6th January 2013. See the reviews in the Archive.