NORTH-WEST ESSEX THEATRE G

 

LITTLE WALTHAM DRAMA GROUP ALADDIN

 

JANUARY 1997

 

ADJUDICATION BY ALISON WOOLLARD

 

The reputation you have created in your community and the expectations which your audience have of you were very obvious during the opening moments of the performance. The audience was nearly as much a part of the show as the performers and I really enjoyed watching a community enter wholeheartedly into the business of entertaining itself. Having commented on the contribution of the audience I don't want to detract from the energy and skill which the cast put into working with the audience and drawing a response from them, whether this was directly in the case of characters such as Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee or indirectly through the very open and confident performances of the rest of the cast. The good nature with which you targeted the local critic and the way she was allowed to fight back was testimony to the very positive atmosphere which the whole production created. I thought I had escaped but I emerged from the hall to find that my programme had been thoroughly dowsed in 'custard'. It NN-as obvious that the whole cast were enjoying themselves very much (I've never seen so many beaming smiles) and that they trusted each other and the audience.

 

The actual script becomes fairly irrelevant in these circumstances; it did have some good moments as well as some boring patches. Fortunately the energy and colour of the production detracted from the shortcomings of the script. You were also right to cut some of the routines which would have been impractical on your stage and to up-date some of the jokes.

 

I was made to feel very welcome by the front of house team who sold programmes and served coffee with great efficiency. They ensured that there was a good atmosphere in the hall before the show started. The programme was colourful and provided some interesting facts about pantomimes and the story of Aladdin.

 

PRESENTATION

 

SET AND PROPERTIES

 

Given your very small stage you wisely avoided any complicated scenery and relied on backdrops which were clear and colourful. I did feel that the writing and details in the laundry could have been bigger and bolder: they were a little difficult to read. The cave entrance worked well though I was mystified at the removal of the rock on the other side of the stage at the interval. Was there a good reason for this ? It did leave a blank on that side of the stage for the second half. The 'T. V Set' was a good interpretation of the inside of the lamp and worked well with the characters coming through the screen. I loved theducks on the wall. The glitter curtain was impressive and you also used the stage in front of the tabs well.

 

The props were appropriate and effective ranging from a very elegant lamp to some of the more vulgar items in Widow Twankey's laundry basket and the contributions to the old iron collection. The flashing ring was impressive.

 

 

COSTUMES. HAIR AND MAKE-UP

 

The costumes were bold, colourful and effective - and what a range you had to find, from Adam and Eve to the outrageous dresses of Widow Twankey !

 

There was evidence of a determination to provide quality and attention to detail throughout. The chorus looked solidly oriental with even the smallest role having a costume which was the result of care and attention. The amount of glitter used in make­up and on costumes created an exotic feel and characters such as the Genie of the lamp and the Slave of the Ring looked other-worldly. Widow Twankey's dresses were splendid with outrageous colour and plenty of volume helping to create her larger than life character. The dull silver colour of Abanazar's costume quickly established him as the villain The fluorescent 'spook' costumes created a vivid impression in the cave.

 

The make-up and wigs did create a very clear 'oriental' impression as well as being definite and colourful enough to emphasise the features and expressions of the actors.

 

MUSIC

 

You played with plenty of energy and attack and the wide range of instruments provided a varied sound. You clearly supported the actors when they were singing solo and set a good pace for the choral numbers.

 

CHOREOGRAPHY

 

The dance numbers were performed confidently and with great verve. The young dancers had been well rehearsed and were obviously enjoying themselves. The chorus line in FLASH BANG WALLOP kept together very well with every member in time and in line; the small movements they made with their eyes and heads created a satisfying pattern.

 

LIGHTING AND SOUND

 

Every performer was well lit with the follow spots creating a particularly theatrical effect. The flashes were accurately timed and really made the children in the front rows sit up !

 

The sound effects were also accurately timed and appropriate.

STAGE MANAGEMENT

 

You obviously got it right because I didn't notice you. It must have been chaos back stage getting the sets and the large cast organised but the impression from the front was of smoothness and efficiency.

 

 

DIRECTION

 

You had put a lot of effort into creating 'the team': the co-operation between actors and between performers and back-stage crew was very evident with everyone being sufficiently confident of their role to be able to relax and enjoy themselves.

 

Movement across the stage flowed naturally as well as being bold in a suitable pantomime style. Actors felt comfortable enough to use the whole of the stage area and pairs or groups of actors such as Abdul and Ming Varz moved easily around each other and created interesting 'groupings'. Nobody was left standing awkwardly, not knowing what to do -with their hands. You used all parts of the hall well.

 

Everyone was sure of their character and had a clear idea of what they were doing and where they were going. This was noticeably true of the chorus who were whole-hearted in their performances however small the role. While all the characters were larger than life there were no caricatures and the audience could still identify with the situations and predicaments on stage. There was also a good contrast of characters with the more gentle Genie and Slave of the Ring set against the outrageous Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee.

 

All members of the cast were completely audible. The production had a good pace with scenes flowing easily into each other and the use of the stage in front of the tabs meant that scene changes happened with no fuss.

 

ACTING ALADDIN

 

You were a fresh and convincing presence on the stage and managed to get a very good balance between being a boy and a girl ! You reacted well to the general chaos going on around you and became increasingly assertive as you realised that you were dealing with a villain. You exuded general `boys'own' get-up-and-go. I believed that you had fallen head over heels in love. Your singing voice was clear and audible.

 

WIDOW TWANKEY

 

Your energy and stage presence contributed a lot to the success of the evening. You moved confidently and were not afraid of making a fool of yourself or of using big

 

 

gestures and movements to create this larger than life character. DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND was a good example of this. You also used a wide range of facial expressions to express her exaggerated emotions. Adopting a 'feminine' voice is always a problem; sometimes your voice did become a little faint and I could envisage problems with it if you were playing a long run. You needed to find a stronger tone. Your devotion to the production was shown in big ways, such as your readiness to fall about so much, as well as small ones: you were completely 'on cue' in the songs. You worked the audience well and involved them all, not just friends or family. You obviously trusted the actor playing Wishee Washee and were able to relax with him and get the greatest fun out of the improvised sections.

 

WISHES WASHES

 

You were an authoritative presence on the stage well used to organising the audience and your mother. You had a very good relationship with the audience and created a great sense of fun. When you had to be the poor down-trodden boy your movement and voice made a convincing change from the 'audience warmer-up'.

 

ABANAZAR

 

Your movement and voice were appropriate for a villain who had to convince some of the people on stage that he was really good. You could have been a little more evil or gloating when you were on your own.

 

ABDUL EL BULBUL

 

You have a face with strong features and used them very confidently in creating a character who is always on the make or worried about being found out.

 

MING VARZ

 

A really original interpretation of the role, which added to the variety of characters on stage. I could easily believe that you had ended up with Abanazar as the result of some white slave trade. You created the impression that you didn't know quite why you were in this strange situation but that you were determined to make the best of it. You moved confidently and created a good contrast with Abdul.

 

KUNG FOO TWO

 

You looked suitably impressive as the Emperor but successfully created the idea that you were hopeless at the job.

LOTUS BLOSSOM

 

You had all the sweetness and grace which the role required as well as the grit needed to defy your father and show up your two handmaidens as being silly. Your singing voice blended well with that of Aladdin.

 

EL MONEY BAGS

 

A clear and confident performance which complimented that of the Emperor HARI KARI

 

A distinctive performance which created a good comic persona.

LI LO AND SHANG HI

 

Your wigs and white make-up helped to make you into strange and fragile creatures and you completed this picture with your restricted walk and constant smiles. You handled the mixed-up dialogue well and created a good contrast with Lotus Blossom

 

GENIE OF THE LAMP

 

You opened the show effectively with your straight forward and serious account of the background to the story - everybody listened to this glittering and magical figure which suddenly appeared. You created an interesting and believable character for the Genie - a gentle and kindly creature who was relieved at finally being released

 

SLAVE OF THE LAMP

 

You made a perfect partner for the Genie: another gentle and humorous character who came from a world obeying very different rules from Earth. Your constant warm smile and sparkling costume made you very watchable. Your singing voice became a little faint on occasions but it is very clear and the audience were prepared to listen carefully to you.

 

MADAM FLASH BANG

 

You also have an infectious smile which, in addition to the energy you put into this routine, helped to make it lively and energetic. CHORUS

 

As I have suggested before you were always in the right place at the right time with such enthusiasm and general verve that you helped to create the bubbly and happy atmosphere in the hall.

Thank you for inviting me to adjudicate your production. I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and I wish you well in future years.

ALISON WOOLLARD