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posted 2 Sep 2008, 13:47 by Richard Holyoak   [ updated 3 Sep 2009, 06:15 by DawnandRuss Crooks ]

"Aladdin", both written and directed by a W D G member, Richard Hill, was truly a panto for all ages, from pre-schoolers to great grand parents. There were delighted chuckles from small children near me, when Widow Twankey (Dickie Wood) made a grand entrance falling from a rickshaw, and there was plenty more slapstick and tumbling about from the three policemen Ping(Simon Maher), Pong (Andrew Spencer) and Sergeant Wong (Keith Parkin). The shrieks of delight grew louder when buckets of foam appeared and were thrown about - children love clowns! However, the clever script, packed with puns and local references as tightly as fruit in a Christmas pudding, kept the adults laughing too.

None of the traditional elements of panto were missing. There were eight well trained and smiling dancers (their skeleton dance in UV light was particularly effective.) The "Citizens of old Peking" were all ages from 6 to 60, as citizens should be, and were a tuneful chorus. Nicky Daniels was a thigh-slapping Aladdin and Katy Daniels a pretty Princess Jasmine. Young Stephen Hinde could easily have stolen the show as the bouncy Wishee-Washee - but was (inevitably!) upstaged by the wonderful, award winning, somersaulting cow, Daisy! (Congratulations, Lauren Crooks and Emma Robinson). The Emperor and Empress of China (Richard Holyoak and Norma Harratt) were a comic double-act and Abanazar (Russ Crooks) a super- baddie - very well "over acted". His poor Liverpudlian sidekick Foo Yung (Becky Harwood) drew lots of audience sympathy.

The Slave of the Ring, a foreshortened Graham Smith, outdid Julian Clary, complete with pink feather boa!  In total contrast, the Genie of the Lamp, Michael Ricketts, was fierce and magical, hovering in the air and speaking in a loud echoing voice. (Very good special-effects)

Last year the Wycliffe Drama Group won Pantomime of the Year, in Leicestershire. Judging by the applause and cheering on Friday night, the packed audience would have presented this award there and then! They certainly felt that Richard Hill, Dawn Crooks (Production Manager), and all their 50 performers and numerous backstage helpers deserved it. I'm sure that everyone went home laughing. Well done WDG!

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