NODA representative for the London region, Darren J A Knight, gave a glowing review of our 2015 Christmas pantomime Aladdin: Sultan of Love.

General

This pantomime had a good blend of music, dance and the traditional elements of any good pantomime, such as; slapstick, cross-dressing, OTT acting, “It’s Behind You” but most importantly fun and laughter. I would suggest that it was perhaps a little too long for a pantomime and some children appeared to me, to get uncomfortable, but this is a minor observation in otherwise well-produced production. The dancing was fabulous to watch, there was some very cleaver re-writes of well-known musical theatre songs and as a whole got me well and truly into the Christmas spirit!

Players

Ligia Kowalska (Aladdin) – a big role and worked very well with the audience, getting them on side very quickly. The family chemistry with the Dame, Wishee and Littlebottom was delightful, along with an affectionate performance with Yasmine – which I found their duet a real highlight.

Alex Dee (The Narrator) – a very enjoyable performance and held the show together suitably. His singing vocals was good and interacted with both the audience and fellow cast very well.

Alex Johnson (Abanazar) – for me he encompassed all the correct elements of a pantomime baddie and was the standout performance of this pantomime. He looked completely at ease in the part and was able to deliver the comedy of the role effectively for the audience’s full enjoyment. His entrances were delightful and took utter control of the stage, commanding the audience’s attention.

Kob Yeboah (Twankee) – gave a typical Dame performance, I felt as if he didn’t feel comfortable in high-heels and perhaps he should have worn them for more rehearsals to give him more confidence. Having said that, he worked well with his family and how I think a Dame should be played, namely ‘a bloke in a dress and not a man trying to be a woman’!

Agi Letkiewicz (Princess Yasmine) – gave a charming performance, for me she looked a bit too ‘Disney’ if I’m being honest and I could not get over this while reviewing. Her first entrance with the featured dancers was beautifully performed and left a lasting impression. She has good confidence and had a good chemistry with Aladdin; their duet was delightful, complementing each other and achieving really good harmonies.
James Wright (Wishee Washee) – gave a good performance of this well known part. I really enjoyed the dance routine for his rendition of ‘When I Grow Up’ and from what I could hear! He seems to have a good voice, but the sound balance was at it’s worst during this song and I could barely hear him.

Paul Aylin (Sultan) – I thoroughly enjoyed his headstrong bumbling performance of a typical pantomime Sultan.

Dave Octave (Genie of the Lamp) – I thought his entrance and entrance music was brilliant, which made me chuckle quite a bit. He certainly looked the part for this role and played it superbly working well with Aladdin and Abanazar.

Nicky Radford (Genie of the Ring) – gave an effective performance, which was lively and very energetic throughout.

Gemma Ronte (Littlebottom) – reminded me of Nancy from Oliver, in the way it was performed and this complemented the Dame perfectly. It was an owe-inspiring performance, as it was full on character performance from the moment she entered the stage to the bitter end.

Paul Dagley, Clare Hurley and Ben Waterhouse (Mischief Police) – the trio worked very well together, working in completely harmony, adding a nice light-hearted touch to things at regular intervals.

Ensemble

The ensemble worked extremely hard throughout the pantomime and they each interacted with the principles very well. They all appeared to take on individual characters and never over played their role within the production. I really enjoyed the dance routines achieved by the featured dancers and they certainly highlighted the depth of talent within this society.

Director

Leoncio Hernandez’s direction was very well considered and executed, especially considering the complexity of the various scenes/locations. He this was achieved was very creative but quite logical in the same breath. I am always delighted to see productions where the writer has been able to director their piece, as it ensures the writers vision to be fully explored and portrayed as they imagined it. He created good spacing with his cast and considered the limitations of the wing space; the entrances and exits were efficient. The ‘Down Low’ song was my personal highlight of the entire show, as it was such a good re-write of a very well known song from ‘Little Shop’ and was performed with great confidence.

Choreography

Emily Bowers and Kim Schenklaars I found all of the choreography was well considered, interesting and utilised the space superbly, creating wonderful pictures. The ‘Decorating Song’ and ‘Mice Routine’ were very well performed by the entire ensemble.

Music

Adam Blosse as Musical Director for this pantomime, appeared to have worked hard with his cast in achieving good soulful harmonies with his cast.

Costumes

The costumes were completely appropriate for every character and looked wonderfully eastern! I particularly enjoyed the uniformity, especially with the feature dancers and maids. The mice costumes, especially for the men, were perfect. Make-up was suitably applied throughout – thought I would have liked to have seen a touch more make up on the Dame. It was great seeing that footwear had been carefully considered to ensure that the cast looked the part but was able to move gracefully in the choreographed numbers. Hairstyles all appeared to be in keeping for this style of production; however I never got the gag/joke with the three mice in the Dame’s first wig.

Set and Props

The set was very suitable for the production and the limited wig space the society has to work with. It easily transported you to the various scenes and enabled the crew to change sets with ease to keep good pace to the show. I particularly enjoyed the projected images, which assisted in setting the scene, especially with the limited set. The props were in the main well used and appropriate throughout the pantomime, allowing good slapstick comedy.

Stage Management

The stage crewed worked very well and changed the set with sufficient ease. Good swift teamwork.

Lighting & Sound

The lighting plot was relatively simple but effectively lit the performances throughout. It was well considered, especially throwing the projected imagines into the mix too which requires careful consideration so as not to lose the projected images but at the same time ensure that the actors are well lit – a very good job. The sound was not always very well balanced and I struggled to hear some of the singing, as the band was simply too loud to allow the audience to fully appreciate the singing from the actors.

Programme

A nice informative programme with a very good poster/cover design and I feel that it should be submitted for consideration for one of NODA London’s regional awards.

Front of House

I was greeted with a very warm welcome by Harriet and made me feel at home very quickly, thank you. The team was efficient and easily recognisable so you knew whom to turn to should someone in the audience needed some assistance.

Darren JA Knight
Interim Regional Representative
NODA London

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