Ali Baba and the forty thieves
12th January 2018
Woodlands Hall, Wideopen
Type of Production
Pamela Alderson assisted by Malcolm Alderson
Author: Michael Avery
Once again, Woodlands Theatrical Society turn to Alan J Frayn for this, their annual pantomime. Confident performances from Ashley Waugh (Ali Baba), Alisar Hassanyeh (Marjana), Holly Hutchinson (Crown Prince Haroun) and Ruano Sutton (Scheherazade) get proceedings running at a spirited clip. Being a non-politically correct traditionalist, I was delighted to see not just one but two principal boys.
The comedy duo of Adam Waugh (Bashim) and Jon Mole-Blakey (Grabbit) was very entertaining and they sang a very effective duet together. Good and evil were embodied in Caroline Dowse (Caterina) and Carla Dupree (Alsatia), both fitting their roles well. I did, however, think Alsatia deserved rather more robust booing than she received! As ever, Malcolm Alderson was on good form as the Dame, Fatima Fandango. He often has the audience in stitches, with moves and jokes well performed, hitting different sections of the audience in true pantomime fashion. Luke Elliott was well cast as the put-upon, slightly naive Mustafa Screwloose. He always engaged the sympathies of the audience. And Scheherazade kept the narrative going, the audience warming to her as her tale unfolded. There was well anticipated relief when her epic story-telling resulted in her retaining her head. The Chorus performed well together and, as ever, the dancers from the Marian Lane School, were enchanting. Special mention must go to the ever reliable Gareth Graham as Asbad. He gave a strong performance, menacing but hilarious, especially when hiding behind an unconvincing false beard, the fluff from which contrived to choke him, to the considerable amusement of the audience.
The society always works hard to give a traditional pantomime performance and this production was no exception. Congratulations to all involved, primarily Director and Assistant, Pamela and Malcolm Alderson. The large team of set designer, set painters and set construction provided effective and appropriate sets. Stage manager Martin Gibson presented a seamless show, marshalling well a largish cast on the rather small stage. Sound and lighting from Mike Austin and his team were good. Scene changes were smooth enough not to be noticed. Costumes were colourful and appropriate for a pantomime.
As always, the tiny “orchestra” of piano (John Hopkinson) and drums (Alistair Garner) filled all the gaps and underscored the whole production effectively throughout. A thoroughly entertaining couple of hours which carried its audience along with it.
Councillors comment: A very fine example of pantomime in its best guise - villians to boo, princesses and leading boy's to cheer and dame to be in awe of - well done Woodlands - very much a 'team effort' by a hard working society.