|Date||24th February 2022|
|Society||The Phoenix Players|
|Venue||Trinity Theatre, Southsea|
|Type of Production||Pantomime|
|Director||Kate Burrows and Sophie Rowsell|
Author: Mark Donalds
It was nice to return to the Trinity Theatre and receive a warm welcome from the ever-helpful front of house people to “Aladdin”, Phoenix Players’ first panto since the pandemic. Settling into our seats we had a chance to admire the very professionally produced programme, printed on good quality paper with fabulous colour graphics, and full of information about the cast and the show.
In true panto style, Oliver Thorne as Abanazar got the audience warmed up well, provoking lots of boos and hisses, as he introduced the traditional story. Dylan Gover made a good Dame (his first time, if I interpret the programme correctly) with some good interactions with the audience and wonderfully over the top costumes. Tyrone Baptiste was a great Wishee-Washee, full of bounce and enthusiasm and well able to bring us along with him. Sophie Nickerson was a confident Aladdin and well matched with Rose Stubbington as Princess Jasmine, who charmed us with her lovely singing voice.
Ivy Burrows was spot-on as the Genie of the Lamp, with her sparkling costumes and grand gestures. Sophie Thorne played the Genie of the Ring in a superbly disinterested way, glued to her mobile phone or filing her nails. Kevin Cordell and Steve Penfold as Kung and Fu the policemen were every inch the genial idiots, bouncing well off each other, and Valerie Bird was beautifully droll as the Flying Carpet, who’d seen it all before. Jo Webb, the archetypal domineering Empress, kept her husband Empy (the Emperor) – Chris Wrein – firmly in check.
Directors Kate Burrows and Sophie Rowsell ensured this was, overall, a fast-paced show – essential for keeping children interested - and had introduced some nice touches. My favourite was the little jig the cast did at the end of each round of the ghost scene (“we’d better do it again then, hadn’t we” – apologies if I’ve misquoted.) Bright and colourful costumes and well controlled lighting, combined with some good sets completed the picture.
Welcome back to the stage Phoenix Players – you gave us a good evening’s entertainment full of colour and some excellent groan-worthy jokes. My only plea would be for a song (in the community singing) that is a little easier for us mere mortals to sing!