Writer: Jamie Smith
Director: Gerry Tebbutt
Musical Director: Bryan Hodgson
Choreographer: Jill Francis
Reviewer: Bill Avenell
One of the joys of going to Guildford for our annual dose of ‘Oh no he isn’t’ and ‘Look behind you’ is that we know exactly what you are going to get and don’t have to worry about whether you have seen the relevant TV programme or listened to the correct hit album. Over the years the Yvonne Arnaud has concentrated on a traditional format (or its modern equivalent for pantomime purists) and a good number of the audience arrive obviously expecting to appreciate exactly that.
Director Gerry Tebbutt concentrates his efforts again this year with the tried and tested core of ‘creatives’ and players who keep both new and old traditions fresh and vibrant. Behind the scenes Jill Francis choreographs a lively group of villagers, John Harris provides some excellent lighting contrasts, Jamie Attle’s costumes display a lavish amount of sequins and sparkle and the Imagine Theatre set creates some excellent tableaux.
On our side of the curtain, Kit Hesketh-Harvey stands out as a thoroughly evil Abanazar who won’t let the audience forget quite how evil he can be. Peter Gordon plays the Dame, Widow Twankee, with aplomb and Jamie Brook gives his, now customary, high energy routine that works both adults and children throughout. The three of them, together with Emma Thornett as Aladdin, yes a thigh-slapping principal boy, manage to extract the maximum amount of fun out of the old pantomime favourites, particularly the ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘I don’t know’ scene, and whatever you do don’t wear anything smart if you are sitting in the stalls.
If you really want to pick holes, the music is a bit thin and there are a few pauses and gabbled lines but the pluses far outweigh the negatives.
The concluding thought is once again the same. Don’t go if you want to see a star or hear ‘belted out’ musical numbers, but do go for a very good family night out and to experience that warm glow that surrounds you as you walk back to the car park after such an enjoyable show.
Runs until 8 January 2016 | Image: Contributed