Review by Danny Gaisin
Writing about one of the world’s most popular ‘panto’ pieces “ALADDIN” requires a little introductory trivia. First, the term ‘panto’ is short for pantomime and is a favorite format for British Theatre. The genre must include songs, dances, audience participation and character identities. Cheers for the heroes and heroines; boos & hisses for the baddies! Caveat:- prepare to be inclusive and entertained!
Item 2. Pundits equate the name of the eponymous character with ‘Allah’- Moslem name for God; and ‘Din’ – the 12th century Sultanic title; as in Salad-a-Din, who fought off the Crusaders. Now one can compete on ‘Jeopardy’ !
BINBROOK LITTLE THEATRE wisely started their staging of the Caroline Smith script early
as the play is geared to a young audience. However, her inclusion of many contemporary and sophisticated references were certainly aimed for urbane and informed intellects. Directed by the team of Rob Blowey & Shirley Marshall, the result reflects the positive experience both they and their (mostly) very young cast enjoyed rehearsing and are now presenting on stage.
The set is simplistic and thus not distracting from leads, support cast and chorus members. The dialogue is corny and rife with double entendres. Local reference and snide Government citing abound. More oblique elements are ABBA standards and even incorporation of the Benny Hill chase music that closed his ubiquitous comedy show that aired from 1955 to ’89. Hill was so diversely talented that he was credited with everything except for operating the ticket booth! Talk about your multi-tasking & micromanaging stereotypes.
Aladdin is portrayed by Benjamin Robitaille, a newcomer to BLT but hopefully, will be a regular. He’s cute with just enough whimsy to be audience identifiable. Sort of the next-door type one hopes will date one’s daughter. His co-star , the desirable princess Jasmine is portrayed by Kiran Matharu and she’s a standout. Traffic-stopping gorgeous is enhanced with an incredibly mobile face whose expressions underscore and Bold-Face every mood and dialogue line. And her epidermis – magnificent, glorious, lustrous, and incandescent… aka Super Wow.
The dozen chorus members are amazingly costumed and the responsible crew trio of Boothman, Khurshid & Matharu are to be congratulated. Coordinated vocals and synchronized dance numbers have their challenges for being in a chorus. This BLT team is mostly comprised by teenagers and pre-teens whose dedication is reflected in their performing. Audiences will be impressed by their obvious enthusiasm.
As happens in live theatre, it is often the support characters that stand out. In Aladdin, the duo of Berleeze Collins (age 11) & Rory Denton (10) who are police officers ‘Frick and Frack’. They mesmerize. Their coordinated zingers and reflecting expressions made us wish they had more on-stage time. The show stealer is Mark Rogers and he is a hoot as the Genie of the Lamp.(Editor’s note:- male genies are JINNS) .Rogers incorporates facial demeanor, posture and body language as visual underscoring. We kept imagining what he would be like doing ‘stand-up; or Improv. The tap-dancing solos by Genie Rachel Anderson reflect obvious training. Her entry/exits are announced by the theme melody from Barbara Eden’s 1965-’70 sitcom ‘I Dream of Jeannie’. Great aide memoire for us old(er) farts.
Community theatre is fun for participants and its audiences alike. Support, either financial or by attendance is something worthy and also enjoyable. ALADDIN runs until Feb. 16th.