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CAODS brings a taste of the Orient to the Isle of Wight.
I absolutely love watching, acting in and writing panto, and always look forward to the pantomime season. CAODS production of ‘Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp’ is the first panto I have seen this season. A Limelight Script, this version is a traditional tale of laundry boy Aladdin, who has ideas above his station, including plans to marry a Princess. But first he must defeat the evil Abanazer and obtain a magical lamp.
I do love a panto baddie and John Abraham doesn’t disappoint. He is suitably menacing as the evil Abanazer, delivering humorous lines with expert timing. Abraham also has the experience to work the crowd, which he does well. I may have got a bit carried away booing and hissing though.
Now in his second year as a dame, Steve Taverner is a delight as Widow Twankey. One of the funniest moments for me is when the Emperor decrees that Abanazer should marry Widow Twanky. Wonderful reactions from John Abraham during Twankey’s hilarious passionate pursuit.
Congratulations to talented youngster Jack Jenner as Widow Twankey’s son, Wishee Washee, The comic lead is a huge part in any panto, as much of the comedic interaction with the dame and audience falls on their shoulders. Although Jenner seemed nervous at the outset, he relaxed into the role in act two. Jenner has a very bright future in theatre and I hope he continues to gain experience and develop his stagecraft. Annabel Boag impresses in the role of Aladdin and delivered a lovely rendition of Never Gonna Give You Up in the romantic duet with Mia Topping.
Panto stalwarts Mo White and Val Michalska are perfectly cast as Feng and Shui, the somewhat flatulent bumbling comedy police.
Duncan Greaves gives an accomplished performance as the Emperor and works well with Mia Topping who plays his daughter Princess Pomegranate. A lovely performance from Mia, who has a beautiful voice and delivers her solos and duets with aplomb. Well done also to Krystal Joy as Princess Pomegranate’s lady in waiting, So-Shy.
Pat Suttman gives a polished performance as the Spirit of the Ring as does Adrian Peppitt as Genie of the Lamp.
The whole chorus execute the song and dance numbers well. The biggest round of applause was for the junior chorus, all eighteen of them, with many of the youngsters performing in their first pantomime.
In any amateur society the wardrobe department are worth their weight in gold thread. As pantomime costumes go Aladdin is one of the biggies in terms of colour and opulence. Liz Santer and Lynn Cooper are to be congratulated on the colourful and imaginative costumes which certainly evoke a sense of the Orient. The scene changes are seamless, well done to the backstage crew. It is always good to see a ‘magic carpet’ in Aladdin and this was appreciated by the audience. Musical Director Luke Mulhern on keyboard and Ed Jager on drums ensured the music was on point throughout. Lighting and sound was creative throughout.
As much as I enjoyed the pantomime, I do have a couple of observations. The performance I saw lacked energy and pace, which may have been due to first night nerves. If the cast are seen to be enjoying themselves the audience will. The chorus giving sweets to children in the audience so early in the story breaks the flow of the panto, as nothing is happening on stage to engage the audience. Saying that, congratulations must go to Director Daphne Brown and her assistant Tracy Howard for such an enjoyable production.
Well done to all involved behind the scenes and to the front of house staff for their warm welcome. I look forward to CAODS next panto.
‘Aladdin and His Magic Lamp’ runs for three more performances:
7.30pm Friday 6th December
2.30pm Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th December.