Aladdin (Panto)

Date 7th December 2019
Society Sparkwell Amateur Theatre Company
Venue Sparkwell Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Tim Horton
Musical Director Tim Horton
Choreographer Carole Wilson


Author: Gareth Davies

It is always a joy to return to Sparkwell for their annual pantomime and their choice for 2019, ‘Aladdin’, is one of my favourites, mainly because it has such a strong plot line. This was developed in a funny and modernized script by Alan Frayne, with SATCo adding their own topical and local gags into the mix, directed by Tim Horton and choreographed by Carole Wilson.

Supporting the lead characters there was a large ensemble playing the villagers, courtiers and spirits and didn’t they do well – “oh yes, they did” – particularly in the high energy dance routines set for them by Carole Wilson.

The lead role of Aladdin was confidently played by George Shirley with Lucy Chapman a lovely Princess Jasmine and Niamh Shirley as a delightful So-Shy.

Phil Gibson was excellent as Widow Twankey - his make-up and many gaudy, outlandish costumes adding to the hilarity of his excellent performance in this iconic role. His confidence, and the ease with which he played the character added to the whole pantomime experience in his interactions with the audience: moments that were unscripted and showed his quick wit.

As Wishee Washee, Jacob Morris brought out the humour in the script and both he and ‘his mother’ had a good rapport with the audience.

Sam Jarvis was suitably evil as Abanazar, well deserving of his ‘boos and hisses’ and Simon Blades played The Emperor with suitable authority (however he did let his hair down in the final musical number)! Two more enjoyable characterisations came from Aimee Bullen as the Spirit of the Ring and Ben Verran, who was very good as the Genie of the Lamp.

The stars of the show were undoubtedly the excellent pairing of Niall Shirley as Yu-Dun-Wong and Tim Horton as Hu-Dun-Pong, the Chinese policemen. They were a brilliantly funny double act, wringing every ounce of humour out of the script, whizzing round the stage on scooters, in a wheelchair or on crutches (Niall Shirley had broken a leg) and hitting everyone in sight with their truncheons!

The scenery was again very effective; the ‘Magic Flight to Egypt’ scene was particularly clever, achieved with black out, fluorescent paint and UV lighting enabling a carpet with Abanazar and the Princess to ‘fly off’ to Egypt.

Reviewing this pantomime was a family event this year. It was wonderful to be able to bring a 6, 8 and 12-year-old to an event that they all enjoyed and understood the fun and humour on different levels. The scenes and jokes of Yu-Dun-Wong and Hu-Dun-Pong have been recreated around the dinner table on several occasions with much hilarity!

Excellent principals, good chorus work, superb costumes, together with great props, sound effects, very impressive lighting and stage management added to the overall production which was colourful, lively and above all thoroughly entertaining. Everyone on stage enjoyed themselves, as did the capacity audience. This was the true spirit of a community Christmas and it is already in the diary to check the date for next year. Congratulations to all involved!

Well done to everyone at SATCo for a brilliant pantomime – the third I have now seen – we felt it merited a nomination for Best Pantomime in this year’s NODA SW awards. Good luck and I look forward to returning for your next ventures in 2020. Thank you too for the fantastic hospitality and warm welcome - the children couldn’t believe their luck and felt like ‘royalty’ – apologies we arrived a little late, but we thought we were there early for a 2-30pm curtain!


Gareth Davies

NODA SW District 3