Writer: Fine Time Fontayne / Kevin Shaw
Director: Kevin Shaw
Reviewer: Paul Downham
As a youngster, this reviewer was taken to the Oldham Coliseum and introduced to live theatre for the very first time in the form of pantomime. Now some, well quite a few, years later a return visit evoked memories of that first show.
What the Coliseum pantomimes lack in huge budget sets and star studded cast lists they more than make up for with traditionalism and good old fashioned theatrical values. A hard working cast that didn’t put a foot wrong all night are supported by a talented youthful ensemble performing some intricate choreography.
As the show began Abanazar played by Adonis Anthony took to the stage to deliver his evil plan to an immediate barrage of hiss and boos before the evening burst into life with the majority of the cast performing Happy by Pharrell Williams, which seems to be one of the two staple songs in every pantomime this year.
Richard J Fletcher plays a likeable Wishee Washee, leader of the Police and of course brother to Aladdin, Justine Bailey who falls for the Princess Jasmine, Nicole Evans, after a chance meeting.
Returning to the Coliseum following a stint in prison with Peter Barlow on Coronation Street this year Fine Time Fontayne looks dramatically less convict like as Widow Twankey. There can be few pantomimes in the country this year that could even begin to compete with Fontayne’s wardrobe! From his first costume to the last, each one became more exuberant than the last with each drawing applause from the audience.
The highlight of the show is unquestionably the scene set in Twankey’s laundry. This is slapstick comedy at its very best. The audience are left in no doubt what is about to happen as a huge stage covering tarpaulin is unfurled. Soon the stage including Fontayne and Fletcher are covered in soap suds which results in slips galore much to the delight of the audience.
The transformation scene from the outside to the inside of the cave was very well done as was Aladdin’s journey on the magic carpet, there were certainly now wires on show here with the audible gasps of disbelief from the children in the audience making way for a spontaneous round of applause.
The Genie played by Umar Malik granted every requested wish to whomever his master was with the help of some great effects.
The show has some great double acts with Bailey and Evans portraying a believable couple, the Emperor played by Ian Aspinall and Fontayne along with Anthony and Kaitlin Howard as the Slave of the Ring. But it has to be Fontayne and Fletcher who continually steal the show providing some of the best comedy moments throughout.
This is a hugely entertaining show performed by an energetic local cast packed full of local references and music ranging from West Side Story through to the finale song Let it Go, which is possibly a little predictable, but ended the night perfectly.
The show has been extended by a week, which just goes to prove The Coliseum has another hit pantomime on its hands, long may it continue.
Runs until the 10th January 2015