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Here is the NODA roport for Aladdin

ALADDIN (Script Alan Frayn)
Newton Abbot and District Musical Comedy Society
Alexandra Theatre Newton Abbot
Friday January 14th 2022
Director – Sara Roche
Choreographer – Liz Law
MD – Jeff Hocking
Welcome back to NADMCS after 2 years away from the Alex stage. Who would have known when I visited
the Jan 2020 pantomime, what was about to be unleashed on us all !! Anyway, thats old news now ! The
new news is that NADMCS haven’t lost any of their old sparkle, despite multiple bumps along the path to the
stage this time.
Problems finding an MD, and of course the well trodden path of Covid-19 fears must have led to an
“interesting” rehearsal period to say the least. I know from my own experience ! On top of that , there was the
ever present worry that the local district council want to gut the theatre building and turn it into a meaningless
performance and hospitality space. This production should demonstrate without any shadow of doubt that
the Alex stage must be retained.
Sara hasn’t directed a panto here for a while. Better known as the choreographer for the musicals, it must be
strange to let someone else stage the dance numbers ! Sara instilled a racy fast pace into the show, with
plenty of fun and silliness. I am familiar with this script having directed it myself twice and this (along with
Jack and the Beanstalk) is my favourite of Alans scripts.
There were plenty of musical numbers and these were kept short to avoid anything overstaying its welcome,
and there was never too much dialogue between songs so the kids in the audience (or the adults for that
matter) never got bored. Character entrances and exits were covered by music to ensure no dead spots and
I know that Sara’s motto is “if in doubt or its getting boring, shove in a musical number !”
It is fairly unusual now to find a traditional principal boy but Louise Bennet came up with the goods in her
usual bright and breezy style. For this performance she played opposite Sophie Hayden as Princess
Mandarin. Sophie took over the role when Jasmine Kewell tested positive for Covid before opening night,
and while it was a shame not to see Jasmine once again, Sophie played the role superbly. This is one of the
beefier principal girl roles in panto, with more to do, and Sophie grasped every opportunity. Louise and
Sophie sang beautifully together and both are excellent dancers.
Katy Parr brought her usual boundless energy to Wishee Washee. She just goes for it, and managed to
wake up a rather sluggish audience and get them shouting out at every opportunity. She clearly understands
what panto is all about and her excellent comic timing and connection with the audience ensure that she
dominates every scene she is in.
Charles Bowdidge as Widow Twankey, sporting and array of wonderful and sometimes slightly bizarre
costumes, reminded me ever so slightly of Julian Clary. Here was a dame who sported a great singing voice
too, so he looked good, sounded good and moved well too. I know Charlotte Wilson made some, if not all, of
his costumes and they looked great.
The policemen have a lot to do as the comic duo. Darren Parr and Isobel Burley (as PCs Wong and Song)
grasped every opportunity. I quite liked the twist that Song takes every chance to burst into silly song, much
to everyones annoyance.
It was lovely to see Maxine Hobson as the Princess’s handmaiden So-Shy and she also got the opportunity
to display a good singing voice and made what can often be a cameo role, something a bit meatier.
Kirsty Blackler-Hinks gave us a sparkly, sassy Spirit of the Ring, always on her phone doing selfies and
watching over proceedings like a rather bemused teacher. She was well matched against Chris Kewell as
Abanazer. After a rather sluggish start the audience got into the booing spirit. Chris was also given the
chance to show off a good singing voice and gave the character a nice sly and shifty presence.
Amanda Malcolm gave the Empress a lovely slightly bemused presence which I quite liked. Always off for abath with the ensemble (!!) . She had good comic timing and great regal presence.
Charlie Dinnie really grasped every opportunity as the Genie. He had bags of energy and as with all other
principals showed that he could sing and dance as well as he could act.
There is a theme developing here – the fact the every single principal could sing and dance ensured that
there were no weak links and no musical numbers that one felt shouldn’t have been included.
Liz Law’s choreography was well planned and really good and very well drilled. There were fewer chorus and
dancers and juniors this year (for Covid reasons) but this actually worked in the shows favour because those
on stage could all move (there were no hangers on) and the numbers all worked really well. The chorus
added to the fun and silliness (I loved Steve Smiths executioner) and I was really impressed by the
contribution of the dancers. They had the most costume changes it seemed and really went for their jazzy
routines. I was very impressed by their energy throughout. The junior dancers didn’t appear as much, but
looked great and all smiled. In fact everyone smiled which is an essential of pantomime.
Visually the show scored on every level. Costumes, mostly from own resources, looked great and were very
colourful. The scenery, mostly a selection of excellent cloths, was most suitable and nicely framed by portals
that sported great LED lights that added to each scene. The lighting gets better each year and the use of
projections for the front gauze also ensured that the flying carpet scene was very effective as Aladdin floated
along the clouds. In fact I would have loved to have seen more of that scene as it was over almost before the
audience could appreciate how effective it was.
Sound is always something that people don’t comment on unless something goes wrong. This isn’t an easy
venue to provide sound re-enforcement for as there are too many outside interferences, but everything
seemed to run smoothly at this performance.
The band, as always here , contributed greatly to the proceedings, with a lovely jazzy feel. Jeff only took over
as MD a week before the show and managed to get to grips with proceedings quickly. As always I would
have preferred more percussion involvement with prat falls.
I really couldn’t find much to nit pick about here as I really enjoyed it all greatly and it was so nice to be back
in the Alex after 2 complete years. My only real criticism is that a couple of scene changes were not covered
by music, leading to some short pauses in the show, but I am guessing that is something that developed at
technical rehearsal stage and couldn’t be rectified and at first the audience were very sluggish which led to a
slight lack of atmosphere until the characters that engage the audience took to the stage to get things
moving along.
The audience loved it all as could be seen from their reaction at the end. If only the Teignbridge councillors
could have been there, but then I suspect most of them haven’t been in a theatre for years and do not
understand that a town the size of Newton, without a decent theatrical venue , is a town lacking a soul.

Iain Douglas NODA representative