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Genie of the lamp brings sheer magic to the stage

The Algarveans captivated audiences at Lagoa Auditorium with the magic of this year’s pantomime Aladdin.

With brilliant sets and colourful costumes, the well rehearsed cast swept children and adults alike off to a fantasy world of flying carpets where princesses fall in love with boys who work in laundries and bad men try to obtain magic powers.

Director Jan Shepheard showed not only her casting expertise but a deep knowledge of the traditional ingredients that make for family entertainment and while the performances were not all word perfect, the adlibbing that went on had the audience roaring with laughter.

Dame Widow Twanky played by Chris Winstanley.
Dame Widow Twanky played by Chris Winstanley.

From the moment the evil Abanazer, played by Des Briggs with experienced relish, walked on to the stage the audience were booing and snarling and the mood was set for yet another wild trip into the land of fantasy.

Although the Slave of the Ring played enchantingly by Melanie Winstanley did her pretty beguiling best to thwart him, Abanazer was determined to find the innocent Aladdin, the only pure soul in Peeking who could enter the secret cave and find the magic Lamp.

By rubbing it the Genie would appear and grant his wish to be all powerful and rule the world.

Of course, as always, good won over bad, the prince won the hand of the princess and they all lived happily ever after.

Whilst everybody who participated lent their own particular ingredient of magic to the performance, it must be said that Dame Widow Twanky played by Chris Winstanley was one of the most amazingly enormous dames this particular patron of the arts has ever seen and gave a truly stunning performance.

The Dame’s two sons Aladdin (Jessica Mota) and Wishee Washy (Charlie Bedingham) are without doubt two rising young stars of the group and showed amazing theatrical skills for such young people.

Princess Jasmine (Orla Ferrie) was yet another young actress who played her part of the sweet but spoiled princess with charm and would-be princes Ian McCullagh and Trevor Herrington milked their tiny parts magnificently.

Jessica Mota was Aladdin.
Jessica Mota was Aladdin.

The Emperor of China (Derrik Watts) and Genie of the Lamp (Steve Smith), So Shi (Nadia Mack) all played their roles to perfection and the two policemen Pep-Si and Ko-La played by Gloria Costa and Lloyd Delderfield had the audience laughing with their Keystone Cops run around.

With magic carpets and butterflies shining in the dark, what more could you ask for from a pantomime? Congratulations to all concerned.  M.A.

Long live pantomime

Review by Alan Hyde

Saturday night at Lagoa Auditorium saw the last of the four performances of Aladdin by The Algarveans Experimental Theatre.

This was ably directed by Jan Sheppeard, produced by Sue Bickerdike, Brian Pemberton and their crew, with choreography by Sue Whittle. It was the classic story of boy meets girl who is totally out of his league, falls in love and is determined to win the girl. He is manipulated by an evil villain, who uses the boy for his own gains. As in all these stories, good (the boy Aladdin) succeeds in winning the girl (Princess Jasmine) and overcoming evil sorcerer (Abanazer).

We were treated to a dark and powerful villain (Abanazer) played to the hilt by Des Briggs. A larger than life performance of Widow Twanky given by the magnificent Chris Winstanley , who had the audience fully engaged from the moment he entered the fray. Wishy Washy grew on the audience and was quite endearing by the end. The rest of the cast gave great depth to the show, with performances of note by Jessica Mota as Aladdin, Melanie Winstanley as Slave of the Ring, Steve Smith as the Genie, Orla Ferrie as Princess Jasmine, Nadia Mack as So-Shi with a couple of comic cops played by Lloyd Delderfield and Gloria Costa. All of the cast including the singers & dancers played their part and ensured the audience participated to the full.

The sets were simple but effective given life and colour by the costumes of the whole cast. Lighting was used to good effect, strengthening the entrances of the major characters. One particular scene was where glow in the dark costumes treated the audience to a show of butterflies fluttering in harmony with the music.

The show was full of all the corny, gut twisting jokes, puns etc. that are expected in a good pantomime, these also included references to local and current national affairs, one even referred to a particular section of the audience only in for that night (nice touch) .

Overheard were comments saying it was their first experience of a pantomime and how they were regretting what they had been missing all this time. There were different nationalities such as Norwegians who had never heard of pantomime. They had no idea what to expect but joined in enthusiastically, and came away full of praise for such fun.

Long live pantomime, it surely will if The Algarvean Experimental Theatre has anything to do with it.  

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