Review by Roger Paine: Aladdin by Polegate Community Association Drama Group

FEW need reminding of the timeless story of Aladdin.

A young man who works in a laundry run by his mother finds a magic lamp which, when rubbed, produces a genie who makes wishes come true.

This version, scripted by David Swan, lived up to expectations.

Firmly directed by Christine Anderson, with music from the ‘All-A-Din’ band directed by Michelle Eldridge, and Sue Wood choreographing the show, the story maintained a colourful pace as it switched from Egypt to China and back again.

This traditionally-staged production also included some clever technical wizardry. Almost “Oh, Yes he is! Oh, No, he’s not!” meets ‘The Krypton Factor’! David Buck, as Widow Twankey, reluctant as ever to hang up his outrageous dresses and garishly-coiffeured wigs, notched up another fine Dame performance to add to his appearances in all the Group’s pantos since 1972.

At the other end of the experience-range, Laurence Dengate-Roe, only 14 years old, as Wishee Washee, combined precocious confidence with mature stage-presence.

Ian Parratt (Abanazer), whose evil characterization had the audience boo-ing from the outset, and Kathy Long (Slave), a metal-clanking, space-age robot, constituted the ‘baddies’.

Hope-Marie Henderson (Aladdin), brought a genuine principal-boy touch to her key role; Lucy Anderson (Princess Jasmine), sang her love duet with feeling; Jane Parratt (Quackers, a Pekin duck), flapped enthusiastically; Margaret Ward (Empress Tutti Frutti), Trevor Fuggle (Grand Vizier) and Sue Talmadge (Susie Pong), were the ‘goodies’, kept in order by Peter Tucknott (Chop-Chop) and Mandy Brown (Na-Na), two unlikely police-persons. Cliff Bendall (Genie), whiskered and turbaned, did everything, literally, asked of him.

Polegate Community Association Drama Group’s fortieth anniversary pantomime was celebrated with an exploding birthday cake at the final curtain.

The production was also appropriately dedicated to Alan Buckingham, a stalwart of the group’s plays and pantos over the past 11 years, who died in 2010.