Review – Beccles & Bungay Journal – Jan 1979
Loddon’s winning formula for annual panto
The traditional Aladdin story spiced with local flavoured comedy, delightful vocals, ambiguous dialogue and colourful costumes and scenery, once again a winning formula for the annual production by the Loddon Pantomime Players.
In the absence of John Harris, Derek Loyd took on the dual role of producer and Widow Twanky and performed both demanding tasks in great fashion. On stage for most of the entire production, his overgenerous figure and excellent use of the innuendo extracted a great deal of laughter from an appreciative audience.
Rose Hoffman played the title role with a convincing charisma and excelled with her rendering of “This is my Lucky Day”, while John Bennett and Geraldine Cowley interpreted the characters of the child hating couple Abanazer and Gazunder, to great effect with spontaneous hissing on the younger element of the audience greeting their every appearance.
The Larkin family, as usual, were deeply involved to great effect. As well as teaming up with Marie Hemming, as the naughty but nice Chinese waitresses Noshy and Poshy, Maureen was co-writer of the script. Father and son, Michael and Ian, combined as the zany laundry hands, Wishy Washy and Splishy Splashy, and their natural exuberance and banjo playing was well received.
Dinah and Charlie Spurgeon provided the charm as a pair of senior immigrants who talked in a broad Norfolk dialect of “Yeastern Promise” and the “Ornamental East” and David Osborne (The Sultan) and Betty Best (The Sultana) enthralled with their versions of “If I Ruled the World” and “Love is a Many Splendoured Thing,” respectively.
The Joan Gisborne School of Dancing manned a versatile magic dragon, called Puff, who danced and hovered with consummate ease. The girls also provided the visual highlight of the evening when dancing in The Cave. The combination of imaginative costumes and clever lighting made their skeletons and ghosts appear very realistic.
The Genie of the Ring (Joan Gisborne) and The Slave of the Lamp (Margaret Bunting) were as convincing as they were contrasting and the Loddon Band, led by Ron Hinton, played with polish and verve.
The finale of the wedding banquet brought the whole cast on stage to a warm reception and, of course, the marriage of Aladdin to his beautiful Princess, Nicola Ellis.
So, an entertaining and amusing production witnessed by four almost filled to capacity audiences. Of all the backstage workers, special mention must be made of Joan Evans (scenery) and Beryl Carver, whose organ accompaniment throughout was excellent.
The profit to be declared at a later date, will be decided between local organisations, and the success of this event augers well for a similar show next year.