Date 20th January 2018
Society Westovian Theatre Society
Venue Pier Pavilion South Shields
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Gareth Hunter (co-director Iain Cunningham)
Musical Director Jonny Winter
Choreographer Lisa Petrie


Author: Gordon Richardson

A good pantomime relies on a standard set of ingredients; a good script, confident principals and audience engagement. Westovians again came up trumps in their annual panto production.

Good and Evil ingredients were superbly portrayed by Holly Chinneck (slave of the ring) and Rosie Diaz (Abanazar); Holly with her cheeky Geordie persona always had the perfect riposte to the evil of Abanazar whose ‘cutting’ one liners to cast and audience alike made her a thoroughly dislikeable person and the boo’s rang out loud and proud and milked to full extent by Rosie who excelled in the role.

Fulfilling the romance ingredients was the Princess Jasmine and Aladdin - both confidently played and superbly sang and acted by Lori Smedley and Jen Stevens respectively. There was great chemistry between the two and each looked and performed well together and with the rest of the cast.

The comedy ingredients were primarily provided by Widow Twanky (David Foster) and his not so bright son, Wishee Washy (Katie Reed) – David engaged with the audience brilliantly and his ad-libbing had audience (and at times the rest of the cast) in stitches. Katie equally had the audience eating out of her hands with her aminated facial expressions and slapstick antics.

There were several stand out moments in this wonderful example of the pantomime art – the magic carpet ride as the finale of Act 1 which was truly ‘magical’; the 12 take-outs of Peking (a superb comedy routine with Twanky, Wishee and Aladdin with audience ‘participation’ whether wanted or required); The script’s humour which the audience thoroughly appreciated; the juvenile and teenagers acrobatics and choreography; and finally the outrageous costumes of the dame – truly outstanding.

An ensemble of talented teenage and juvenile dancers and smaller principal roles of Stan Hunter (an outrageously camp Genie), Corey Muizelaar (a ‘doddering’ Emperor with a penchant for alliteration) and Melissa Whale-Spencer (a cuddly Apanda Holden) all added to the entertainment – as did the trio of musicians led by Jonny Winter.

The set was very well dressed and colourful, well moved by ninja like crew, Lisa Petrie’s choreography was dynamic and classy whilst lighting matched the mood of the scenes whilst crystal clear sound reinforcement allowed the capacity audience to hear the humour.

Like any set of ‘ingredients’ for a panto, they need to be fine quality and well prepared, and under the directorship of Gareth Hunter and co-Director Iain Cunningham the resulting product was tasty and left the audience wanting more.

Pantomime at its best – well done Westovians.