Review: Aladdin by Honiton Community Theatre Co.

Official NODA Review

“Effervescent production with a lavish touch and oodles of fun”

‘A sea of colour and cast’ could best describe first impressions of this vibrant pantomime by a society we have learnt to expect some of the best from! The script by Jack Northcott contained the greater part of the known and expected set pieces for pantomime, but perhaps ‘not quite as we know it!’ A setting of a Takeaway as opposed to Widow Twankey’s traditional Laundry, the appearance of a Panda called ‘Fu Fu’ and a Mummy, (of the Egyptian kind!) all added to the fun.

After seeing this fine crafted production, it is to be wondered if the lines between panto and musical may have merged slightly, and why not? Predictable can be boring and that definitely could not be said of this production. Yes, there was particularly messy, but very funny, slapstick, the ‘baddie’ who got the balance between nasty and terrifying just right and the dame who looked incredible and outrageous in equal parts, but at times all this appeared secondary to the songs and choreography, of which there were lots! This as likely as not brought confusion to the young within the audience, who have a need to see a storyline clearly or will lose focus very quickly, perhaps demonstrated by a slightly mellow audience response to some of the wittier dialogue and banter.

One of the standout parts of the production must belong to the singing, with an outstanding line up of young, vocally talented principals, a huge, strong chorus along with an excellent mesh of mostly modern song choices of which the younger cast in particular, related to with enthusiasm. Arrangements contained clear, audible harmony and were of perfect duration  for the performance to be enjoyed. Full production numbers displayed strength and tenacity with support from an upbeat group of musicians. Some of the choreographers best work was seen in ‘Best day of My life’ and ‘Walking on Sunshine’, with creative moves, smiling faces and energy but with a full stage, movement was restricted at other times with the tendency to use lines to accommodate cast space, which may have looked good from the back raised seating but to the rest of the audience, a lot of patterns were unfortunately missed!

Scenery and costumes were impressive; a red and gold theme gave a lovely oriental vision with a little bridge adding to the effect. A gold themed, draped cave with similarly adorned ladies looked magical, albeit briefly as the script moved along. With the use of back projection, the audience were taken on a realistic, magical carpet ride, this being a supreme part of enchantment for them!

The costume team obviously burnt the midnight oil on numerous occasions, to dress such a large cast so stylishly. In particular Widow Twankey’s outfits were a stunning vision of imaginative design and impressive needlework.

The character of Aladdin was in the solid, capable hands of Chloe Pottinger who has blossomed and matured into a huge package of talent, as have most of the young principals in this society, their stage presence always being a joy to see. The pairing of Dave Pickerell and Heather Woodbridge as the comical Emperor and Empress proved to be an object lesson in how to get the best from cameo roles while the lovely and engaging characters of So Shy, Spirit of the Ring and Princess Jasmine demonstrated there wasn’t a weak link anywhere!

This was a most enjoyable, effervescent production with a lavish touch and oodles of fun that brought all ages together in their enjoyment.