Date 12th January 2023
Society Hoylake & West Kirby Theatre Group
Venue The Gladstone Theatre
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Jon Croft
Musical Director Jeff Broadbere
Choreographer Liz Hardwick
Producer Jon Croft
Written By Alan P Frayn


Author: Joanne Rymer





The anticipation of the packed audience at the Gladstone Theatre was tangible, even in the foyer with families gathering, and as everyone waited eagerly for the curtain to rise you remember those days of sheer excitement from your childhood. From the off the show was a visual delight, and effective back drop transporting us to Old Peking. The scenery was stunning, loved the Ravine and Abanazar’s lair, superb lighting/sound: well, done Jamie Moran and Elliot Tutt: rousing opening number ‘Larger than Life’ with full cast and special effects creating pure enchantment (the flight scene was magical) with effective choreography from Liz Hardwick. Praise too for the stage crew, the scene changes were flawless, loved the imaginative use of forward lighting, clever and very effective.

Now a Dame should never be confused with a drag queen and H.A.W. K’s, Jamie Brown, is the epitome of the traditional pantomime character, in this case Widow Twankey, complete with a totally outrageous wardrobe and a washing line headdress. Widow Twankey has two sons, Aladdin (Kaitlin Kay) whom his mother says is ‘workshy’ and Wishy Washy (Anna Charles) who works in the family Laundry: also employed at Twankeys Takeaway’. Aladdin has bigger ambitions, after meeting Princess Mandarin (Steph Johnson) whom he wishes to marry. The Emperor (Joe Potts) realises that he is broke, issues a declaration for wealthy suitors for the hand of his daughter. Princess Mandarin confides her feeling for Aladdin with companion So-Shy (Liz Hardwick) lovely number ‘I will be here for you’. Law and order are upheld by two hilarious policemen characters Wong (Jill Eason) and Pong (Stuart Newbould-Clay) as you may imagine from their names the jokes were thick and fast, great comic performances.

The audience is introduced to the Panto ‘baddie’ Abanazar played by the multi-talented Stuart Raphel, who has ownership of the ring with magical powers which is protected by the ‘Spirit if the Ring’ played by Louise Gleave. 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, great delivery of ‘I want it all’. Abanazar dishonestly claims he is Aladdin’s uncle in order to acquire the lamp. The booing from the children when he appears, the expressions on their excited faces were brilliant. Panto audiences love their villains…Stuart was an outstanding villain bringing his own unique comedic style to the part. Louise gave a splendid performance as ‘Spirit of the Ring’, her duet ‘The Power of Love’ with Aladdin was tremendous. Louise showed great stage presence and professionalism pulling the stories thread together. The audience loved the fact that her delivery was totally in rhyme. Very effective.

Louise’s counterpart is of course The Genie of the Lamp (Liam Comer) this was a performance full of commitment and energy, song and dance. A great delivery ‘Friend like Me’ with Aladdin and full chorus, a highlight of the show for me.

Musical Director Jeff Broadbere and his very talented band did a great job, never overpowering the shows performers.

It was also nice to see such talent in the next generation coming through, with H.A.W. Ks junior chorus, dancers and singers, the full cast of ‘River Deep Mountain High’ was glorious.

An enthusiastic energetic pantomime, thoroughly enjoyed by your audience, congratulations to Jon Croft on his first direction of a Panto, I am sure it will not be the last. Just an observation, this maybe me being a bit ‘picky’ however the ending was a little rushed.

Meeting you all at the interval was a delight and it was lovely to see how proud the acting members are of those ‘behind the scenes’ and rightly so.

Thank you for a truly entertaining evening, looking forward to Sister Act.


Joanne Rymer


District  4