Date 18th December 2021
Society The Carlton Little Theatre
Venue Little Theatre Birkenhead
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Liz Youster & Les West
Musical Director Les West
Choreographer Nicola Lawton & Helen Morton
Producer Liz Youster
Written By Les West


Author: Joanne Rymer

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Carlton Players production of Aladdin at the Little Theatre Birkenhead. What a rousing start to the Pantomime season.

The tale of Aladdin dates back to the 9th century, however, Carlton Players production features an abundance of modern twists, the opening scene a case in point. What a physically demanding and beautifully performed dance arrangement performed by newcomer Grace West terrific performance. Congratulations must go to the choreographers Alyssa McKenzie & Melanie Morton for this dramatic opening.

Theatregoers quickly put the problems of the pandemic to the back of their mind when the Saturday matinee began, as the cast invites them to a magical place packed full of fun, laughter, song and dance. This was community Panto at its best, terrific cast, lots of topical jokes, and of course lots of audience participation.

The audience is introduced to the Christmas Panto ‘baddie’ , Abanazar played by the talented Brian Dickson together with sidekick Mustapha played by Chris Clinton. Abanazar has ownership of the ring with magical powers which is protected by the Spirit if the Ring’ played by Yahya Baggash. However, the villain’s true intention is soon revealed as Abanazar is only concerned with obtaining an ancient lamp that would grant him the power to conquer the universe. The booing from the children when he appears, the expressions on their excited faces were brilliant. Panto audiences love their villains…

Stepping into the role as Pantomime Dame for the first time as Widow Twankey is Gareth Crawshaw., a well-known member of Carlton Players.  What a performance, he demonstrates an ease to the role, showing great rapport with the audience.  I loved the rendition of ‘Always look on the Bright side of Life’ a perfect choice. A great Dame Gareth you’re a natural. Well Done.

 We find ourselves in the laundry where meet Wishee Washee and Aladdin the two sons of Widow Twankey played by Liam Carr and Stacey King. These were lovely traditional panto performances from these two actors. Stacey Immediately engaged with the young audience panto style asking them to say ‘hello’ every time she came on stage. Great stage presence, she is very comfortable on stage .Great performance.

The Royal household of the Emperor, Princess So Shy and his two sisters Lady Ching and Lady Chang, and Ming are an absolute joy. Marc Smith who plays the Emperor brings such a sense of fun to the role, especially when he is the object of amorous attention from the Widow Twankey. This is an inspired performance here from Marc, well done. Chloe Taylor plays So Shy beautifully, capturing her sense of loneliness, her solo ‘On My Own’ was sensitively delivered, such a lovely voice, and congratulations on your first panto role Chloe. Mary Clinton and Phyllis Brighouse gave outstanding performances as the Emperor’s sisters Ching and Chang, especially when drawn into the plot to steal the lamp by the villain Abanazar, hilarious. Ming played by Steve Youster is a tour de force, stubbornly upholding the old ways and conventions. What a comical scene at the laundry with Marc Smith total slapstick. His partnership with the Emperor was hilarious. Well done Steve. I have a very special well done to Paige West and Molly Taylor. As Pic and Poc the hapless policeman, Rachel Buchanan as Sammy and Evie Gillian Reynolds as Suki, they were amazing. All four are newcomers to Carlton Players; all are very talented young people. Congratulations

The all-female pantomime dancers from Xtreme Dance School deserve a huge mention too as they were wonderful. Despite being so young, they exuded confidence and had great stage presence. Their dancing was impeccable and their direction was faultless, congratulations to the choreographers Nicola Lawton and Helen Moran. A multi-talented bunch to watch out for as they join the older Carlton Players casts, I’m sure.

The energy onstage was matched by the colourful costumes. The audience’s eyes were also treated to ever-changing backdrops, from a wash house, a village, a palace, Egyptian tombs and of course the caves. Praise to the set, sound, lighting and costume designers, Liz Youster (who also happens to be the Director) Jill Breckon, Susan Braddock, Steve Jones, Pam Buckle, Les West, Grace West, Brian Williamson, Craig Reynolds and Alan Phillips.


 Aladdin and Princess So Shy are in love but their union is forbidden by royal custom, which decrees the latter must marry someone of noble birth. Seduced by evil sorcerer Abanazar who promises riches buried deep within the Cave of Wonders, Aladdin embarks on an epic quest to prove he is worthy. Aladdin’s mother, Widow Twankey, and his brother, Wishee Washee is roped in to halt Abanazar’s evil plan. The discovery of the lamp in the Cave brings forth Genie of the lamp, played by the feisty Dylan Russell. Boy did we know she had awoken a genie with attitude, great fun well done Dylan. The genie informs Aladdin he can have anything he wishes…

As this is pantomime we all know it will be a happy ending, as of course it is.

Aladdin marries So Shy to become the new ruler, Sammy replaces Ming, Pic and Poc are promoted and the Emperor and Widow Twankey became a couple…Wishee Washee inherits the Landry; Abanazar and Mustapha are banished. Genie of the Lamp and the Spirit of the Ring are reunited after being freed from their enforced servitude.


This was a great afternoon’s entertainment from a community society that is undoubtedly giving a great deal of pleasure to people on both sides of the curtain. Thank you for the invitation, it was a blast.


Joanne Rymer


District 4