Association of Community Theatre
Show Reviews 2017
PADOS Theatre Group
Director: Sara Brockway
Choreographer: Emily Richardson
As soon as we entered this small, intimate theatre we knew we were going to be in for a real treat. The workshop team had dressed the stage in a fantastic way, totally in keeping with area in which the story is set, Peking. Even before the curtains opened, the sellout crowd was clapping along to the music and was eagerly awaiting the opening number. The opening certainly didn't disappoint and it set the tone for what was about to come. The track, "Sunshine In My Pocket", enabled each cast member the opportunity to open the show with a very slick dance routine and equally good vocals. This well drilled choreography continued throughout each musical number.
Every pantomime needs a comedy duo and this one was no exception. Ping and Pong, played by Helen Marland and Debbie Lewis, were well matched and gelled as a team. They confidently executed their signature song of "Wherever We Go" throughout the show with great enthusiasm.
A pivotal character in any pantomime is the Dame and here we witnessed an outstanding performance from Simon Fletcher, as Widow Twanky. His facial expressions had the audience roaring with laughter and this continued throughout the show, whether the character be twerking, river dancing in wellington boots or strutting her stuff to "Man I Feel Like a Woman". It is very easy to get carried away with ad libs, in jokes or high levels of adult humour, particularly with a very enthusiastic audience. However, Simon maintained a high level of professionalism and got the balance just right.
Amanda Earnest gave a stand out performance as Wishee Washee, one of Widow Twanky's sons. From the moment she bounded out onto the stage she had the audience eating out of her hands. It is easy for energy levels to wane as a performance progresses but this was not the case with Amanda. From dance routines to comedic moments, the characterisation was fantastic. Not even a slightly inappropriate suggestion from some audience members could distract. Well done! Pairing with Wishee was Ashlee Harris, who gave a good performance as So-Shi, Lady Cha-Ming's maid.
The second of Twanky's sons, Aladdin, was ably played by Tim Platt. His opening song of "Come On, Come On" was well executed and fitted the character he was portraying. He showed good interaction with cast and audience alike. I did find the socks and trainers slightly distracting and not really in keeping with the character. Tim was well matched with Abi Bradley, who certainly looked the part of the royal princess, Lady Cha-Ming. Delivering a solid performance, a highlight was the duet with Aladdin, which she sang beautifully. Cha- Ming's father was confidently played by Rob Livesey, who gave a strong, royal performance.
As the well-known story unfolds, Aladdin comes across the Slaves of the Ring and the Genie of the Lamp. The Slaves, played by Charlie Lewis and Roxanne Burns, were suitably cast and the characters worked well with their Liverpudlian accents. Jack Forrest took the role of the Genie and his song "Never Had a Friend Like Me" was delivered with style and panache. Emily Richardson must be commended, as the makeup for these three characters was truly fantastic.
There was a slight twist to the story line, in that the well-known Uncle Abanazar was replaced with Auntie Abanazar. When the character first entered I wasn't sure this change would work. However, Charlotte Clegg convinced me with her menacing tones, proving that this adaptation was a positive one. It was a shame that the fantastic character you had created was lost momentarily when you apologised for forgetting a line.
The townsfolk added a further dimension to this production and the excellent choice of songs and modern script from Jasper Publishing, written by Eric Fowler, ensured the pace was maintained and kept the audience gripped. This was enriched by the wonderful costumes co-ordinated by Emma Ward. Clearly, a lot of time and thought had gone into these and the result was fantastic. The limited space in the venue could pose difficulties for the use of scenery and scene changes, but with a little imagination from the creative team this was not a problem at all. I particularly liked the 'big budget cave!" Credit must also go to lighting, sound and properties. All co-ordinated brilliantly and the balances were just right - well done.
A definite highlight of the night was the laundry scene. Slap stick comedy can easily lose momentum but this was certainly not the case. Wishee, Twanky, Ping and Pong had the audience in hysterics, especially when Ping went through the mangle at a rate of knots!
A thoroughly enjoyable evening's entertainment, which left the audience wanting more, coupled by a fantastic welcome and great hospitality throughout the night; thank you PADOS Theatre Group.