Date 11th January 2024
Society Chrysanthemums Pantomimes
Venue Gladstone Theatre
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Julie Delaney& Graham Leigh
Musical Director Norman Scott
Choreographer Rebecca Gardner
Producer Julie Delaney& Graham Leigh
Written By Graham Leigh


Author: Joanne Rymer



Floral Pavilion



There is always the buzz of anticipation at the Floral Pavilion New Brighton when the Chrysanthemums Pantomime is about to begin.  Today also, a touch of sadness, as loyal fans of the Chrysanths will know of the sudden death of Terry Davies last August. Terry had been a member of Chrysanths for thirty years. Terry will be remembered as the Chrysanths Dame, and what a Dame he was! Widow Twankey, Dame Trott, Nurse Nitty Nora, Dame Sara Suet, to name just a few. A true professional never missing a line, (in fact he added a few) and always on cue (it was getting him off stage that was the problem) He was well loved by the society and by the audiences that he entertained for many years, this show is dedicated to his memory.

Aladdin is one of the most well-known tales from ‘The Arabian Nights’ which then became an incredibly popular Pantomime. The panto genre is a special one, with gender role reversal, a storyline of good vs evil, slapstick comedy, colourful, eccentric costumes, audience participation, and of course a happy ending; this production has it all. Chrysanths stalwart Graham Leigh wrote this imaginative script for this production.

Everyone loves the pantomime villain; we are introduced to Abanazar played by Chrysanths favourite Phil Gilroy. Dishonestly claiming he is Aladdin’s uncle befriends Aladdin in order to acquire the lamp he believes would grant him the power to conquer the universe. So often in pantomimes, the heroes are the dullest characters but here Aladdin is someone you actually care about, with children in the audience shouting out warnings when Abanazar is around; hilarious. Abanazar persuades Aladdin (Laura Jackson) to retrieve the lamp from the devilishly booby-trapped cave promising him success and happiness will follow. Aladdin gets trapped in the cave, remembering the magic ring he summons the fairy, the ‘Spirit of the Ring’ (Maria Larkin) following her advice Aladdin rubs the lamp then is helped by the Genie of the lamp (Jacob quick) and escapes the cave. Splendid performances from both and well done to Jacob on his panto debut. Perhaps the most famous of all panto villain traditions is audience participation 'booing' and 'hissing' on every entrance Phil enthusiastically encouraged this throughout the show, his drunken episode with the Princess (Jessica Nixon) is hilarious. A fine performance.

Widow Twankey (Aaron Hayes) runs the laundry with her two sons Wishie Washee (John Sprung-Murphy) and Aladdin (Laura Jackson). Wishie is not very clever and Aladdin who is always up to something, hanging around the market square he dreams of a higher calling. One day a Princess (Jessica Scott) accompanied by Pekoe (Charlie Link) comes into his view, and changes his life forever. The Emperor (Stew Rooke) and Empress (Leanne Burgess) forbid any male to set eyes on their daughter.  Poor Aladdin is seen and chased, led by Chief of Police (Dave Alcock) two policemen Hilo (Jed Flowerday) and Lilo (Graham Leigh) affectionately known to fans as Chrysanths dynamic duo. Boy, do they know how to work an audience, the scene in their tent on Mars (yes, I said Mars) is so well-executed, so funny, terrific comedy timing from two very talented panto specialists. Now back to 'Mars'  Abananzer hearing of Aladdins good fortune when finding th 'lamp' returns, he tricks the Princess innto giving him the lamp, as she does not know of ite magic powers. Are you still with me? Abanazer then having the lamp orders the Genie to banish Aladdin to the planet Mars.. As it says in the programme it is a panto!!

Directing a Chrysanths pantomime once again is the dual responsibility of Julie Delaney & Graham Leigh. What a talented combination they are, perfect casting, an excellent production team, great stage crew. Praise for choreographer Rebecca Gardner, her deputy Grace Ferguson, assistant Lucy Swift. The principal costumier Sheila Weaver, Buds, Petals, Posies, Blossoms and Blooms the youth ensemble all fifty of them were outstanding, thanks once again to Thelma Warrington, Ann Williams, Jenny Plant and Sarah Jackson.  Then there is the music, Musical Director the irrepressible Norman Scott and his small but talented band were perfect once again, never overwhelming the performers.

What a team.


For me, Aaran Hayes is the spirit of this Chrysanths panto, following very much in the footsteps of comedy legend Terry Davies.  It is great to see a performer on top form, bringing the icon that is Widow Twankey to life on stage once again, congratulations and well done to Aaran.

I have to mention John Sprung-Murphy as Wishie-Washie, played with amazing energy and comic timing, he was a tour de force, a very fine performance.

This production has pops, bangs and whizzes all over the show, (quite literally!) From the arrival of the Genie to a magnificent flying carpet, that left everyone wondering how they had managed it. This production didn’t allow the word ‘amateur’ to enter into anyone’s minds.  

We all know that a panto is not just the principal players, the full ensemble are all wonderful, their happy smiling faces were a joy to see, that is what the Chrysanths is all about.

Thank you so much for inviting me I loved seeing you all, as always ' See you next Year'


Joanne Rymer


District 4