Sell-out performances for Prestbury Panto

The Prestbury Pantomime production of Aladdin at the adorable Little Theatre in Lord Street represented everything that is best about community life writes Simon Carter.

Eilis O’Keefe, Sam Ashall and Dulcie Whadcock

Over five sell-out performances an audience of more than 1,000, from young babies to great grandparents, lapped up every second of a dazzling, delicious post-Christmas treat, witnessing I am sure the birth of some long stage careers.

The child actors, no one is above the age of 15, were drilled to be professional and poised by show-business wife Suzan Holder, but more importantly they were free to explore their natural comedic gifts and grab every laugh from a riotous, contemporary script, written by the popular Mrs Holder.

The musical tableaux with such lyrical singing and elegant, explosive dance sequences touched every heart and literally had the audience jumping in their seats, particularly the octogenarians who participated more then anyone. It was fun, it was fantastic, and it was totally, utterly, absolutely fabulous.

The performances were of such a remarkably high standard it is hard to know where to begin, but where better than the pantomime dame of all dames Widow Twankey, played with style, gusto and great timing by the redoubtable 15-year-old Sam Ashall, his combination of Jimmy Jewel and Lilly Savage drawing a burst of applause at every entrance and exit.

Clearly leading man material, young Sam showed a breadth of comic talent and left us all assured that there really is nothing like a dame.

His side-kick Wishee Washee, played by 13-year-old Dulcie Whadcock, was similarly superb, confidently leading the audience and exploring every nuance of potential laughter. Delightful Dulcie is clearly an extremely intelligent young woman, with more then anyone’s fair share of charm.

The evil schemer Abanazar, played by the 14-year-old Alex Rogan completed a dazzling comic triumvirate with a bottomless insidious laugh which had the audience howling back their disapproval. Job done for the arch villain.

Aladdin Eleanor Newsome makes an unforgetable entrance

They were contrasted by the fairytale young lovers, with the cheeky but charismatic Aladdin played by delightfully impish 15-year-old Eleanor Newsome and 13-year-old Ellie Bradley, obviously typecast as the most beautiful girl in the world, Princess Jasmine.

Their Astaire and Rogers duets plucked at the heartstrings and had the young boys in the front seats purring with admiration.

But they were all marvellous: Harriet Kirk as the Genie of the Lamp, Grace Goddard as the Genie of the Ring, Charlii White as Sheherazade were funny, but equally able to burst into modern popular song. Simone Fleary and Rosie Graham as the Sultan and Sultana made a bemused husband and wife team, much like Terry and June, and all the minor characters contributed with aplomb, Alex Hine milking his wonderful Tai Chi scenes and Eilis O’Keefe, not half as soapy as her supposedly half wit character Soapy Sophie.

It was a great night out and Prestbury, Tytherington, Macclesfield and beyond should be proud of their young performers, and all those who have been directing the actors, music, make-up, scenery and front of house activity over so many months of hard but fruitful work.

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