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ALADDIN (article first published : 2005-01-28)

Running at the Royal Hotel’s Grillroom since November 7 over the festive season, Aladdin Trouble has now transferred to the Kwasuka Theatre where it will run until mid March.

While the Royal Grillroom offered a sophisticated and comfortable dining atmosphere, this production is seen to greater advantage in a proper theatre and the banter and nonsense that makes up pantomime – particularly adult pantomime! – works more successfully in Kwasuka’s more intimate surroundings.

The cast line-up is the same: Anthony Stonier (Genie); Widow Twankie (Peter Court); The Sultana (Clare Mortimer); Bubbles (Rowan Bartlett), Aladdin (Marc Kay) and Princess Jasmine (Julia Clarence).

The show is written by Patrick Hyland and directed by Peter Court whose background in traditional pantomime in the UK always stands these productions in good stead. Peter has also designed the set and if I have any suggestions at all it would be that it would be nice to have a change of scenery occasionally, even if it meant different draping of the highly effective tent setting.

There were also imbalances with the sound, particularly at the beginning, but these will no doubt get themselves sorted out.

Musically, the production has improved considerably since its opening at the Royal. As the undisputed star of the show, Anthony Stonier seems to have acquired an added sparkle and I was again impressed by his controlled rendition of a difficult slow tempo’d I Am What I Am. Rowan Bartlett and Mark Kay have come a long way since their initial tentative handling of the songs and Clare Mortimer’s Let’s Fall in Love was a gem.

Kit Reading’s costumes are as crisp and attention-getting as they were three months ago and, in the smaller environment of the Kwasuka, I was able to delight at close hand at some of the finer details of his design such as the clothes-peg headdresses for the Swan Lake send-up; the beading on Princess Jasmine’s outfit; the glass baubles on Bubbles’s hat and Peter Court’s delicious pink socks!

Among some of the comments raised tonight was the question: “Will a pantomime show still work in January?” I don’t see why not. There’s no link to Christmas – it’s just a jolly good evening’s entertainment. There’s a charming heroine and a good-looking hero, a deliciously drywitted baddy, two way over-the-top “ugly sisters” and a flamboyant genie. What more could you need for a fun night out?

Aladdin runs at Kwasuka Theatre from January 25 to March 12 with performances Tuesday to Saturday at 20h00. Tickets R65. Book at Computicket. – Caroline Smart

NB: At Kwasuka, “Aladdin” is not offered as supper theatre entertainment but as a straightforward theatrical presentation.




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