Aladdin was an Oriental Delight
ONCE again Linlithgow Players have brightened up the dreich days of early January with their annual pantomime.Their production of Aladdin was a spectacle of glittering colour and equally sparkling performances which delighted the audiences in the Linlithgow Academy Theatre last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The show was beautifully costumed and everyone on stage, cast and chorus, obviously enjoyed themselves hugely.
Although the action took place in Old Peking, the script by Peter Anderson had references a-plenty to premises in Linlithgow and to neighbouring towns and villages, as well as the now expected, almost obligatory, friendly jokes at the expense of Bo'ness!
Three newcomers to the Players excelled in their first pantomime roles. Gavin Jenkins threw his all into the part of Wishee Washee and had the audience in fits when he launched himself from the stage into the arms of his mother Widow Twankey! Alison Muir was a charming Princess Jasmine with a very sweet singing voice. Jasmine's lady-in-waiting So Shy was well played by young Siobhan Murray, a difficult part as So Shy has never been known to speak until late in the action when she sets her sights on Wishee Washee and shows her true nature - he didn't stand a chance! Another comparatively new Player, Janine Milne, was immensely entertaining as Gene the Genie whose North-East genie-spell-speak was hilarious.
Two former members of the Players have also returned to the fold, sisters Karin and Christine Fleming. Karen joined forces with David Wotherspoon to form the comic duo Inspector Hong and Sergeant Kong, the inept policemen in search of Abanazer, the Evil One.
The audience joined in enthusiastically in their rendering of the Goon Show Ying Tong Song. Christine was the long suffering empress, wife of the confused, dozy emperor, played by Andy McGregor.
And what about Abanazer (Brian Peebles) the wicked magician himself? Interval and after-show comment had him earmarked as one of the highlights of the show. No wonder. What a baddie - and how the audience loved to hate him! They hissed and booed loud and long at his every appearance and how they cheered when he got his come-uppance! His poor put-upon servant Aw Naw (Eleanor Bain) scored a hit too. Although restricted to only uttering the two syllables of her name, Eleanor's facial expressions spoke volumes.
Yet again Les Fulton as the dame, Widow Twanky, brought the house down. Les has been a firm favourite for several years now and his fans weren't disappointed. As well as his sterling performance throughout, his show-stopping song "Don't Cha" had them shrieking in the aisles. Dressed in a short nightie exposing ludicrous undies, he first serenaded the hapless Aw Naw before moving down into the audience and selecting unsuspecting male victims. On Thursday night he managed inadvertently to choose Provost Tom Kerr's knee to sit upon! There ain't nothing like this dame.
Claire MacMillan, Aladdin, sang gloriously, both solo and in duet with Princess Jasmine, and acted the part convincingly, a dashing hero. Music is an important part of panto and the "orchestra" of Judy Barker (piano) and Peter Anderson (drums) proved little is more.
Peter wrote the lyrics and Judy the music for two songs. As always the musical aspect of the show was enhanced by the delightful dancing of the girls from the Central Scotland Ballet School.Let's not forget the work of the production team without whom the show could not go on, especially the superb direction of Elizabeth MacMillan.
In the words of Anna Cameron, Leader of the 4th Colony of Beavers in Linlithgow, the Players' Pantos' most loyal young supporters, "They all loved it. Roll on next year."