Aladdin: Adventures in the East
ACTS (All Comers Theatre Society)
Deepings Methodist Church
Youngsters and adults from the Deepings gave the age-old story of Aladdin their own spin to three different audiences on Saturday.
There was plenty of audience partipation as a cast of 20 actors, supported by Deepings Music Group, took their audiences to the ancient Middle East for a true “rags to riches” tale of Aladdin winning the hand of Princess Jasmine.
Aladdin was played by Rachel Eyre, who has built up her reputation around Cambridgeshire and Norfolk as a semi-professional singer of 1940s’ wartime hits.
Rachel’s impressive singing voice was the foundation on which the play was built as Aladdin, helped by both the Genie of the Ring Jennie (play director Georgina Kane) and Genie of the Lamp (Nick Holden), navigated his way through the dangers posed by evil Abanazar (Ruth Scholfield).
The play contained plenty of references to both 20th and 21st century events and music, from Jessie J’s “Price Tag” to Shirley Bassey’s “Big Spender”.
We have a lot of fun. sometimes as much fun as at the actual performance, and the youngsters love itKaren Kendall, Wishee Washee in Aladdin: Adventures in the East
As with any community play, a number of potential stars emerged from Aladdin in addition to Rachel herself.
The younger members of the cast more than played their part, particularly Officer Tai Chi (Daniel Partridge), PC Kung Fu (Ella Kane) and the two guards (Penny Baxter and Maddy Partridge).
Chris Hartley shone as pantomime dame Widow Twankey, along with Wishee Washee (Karen Kendall) and Soapy Sophie (Rebecca Duckworth).
However, the key to carrying any stage role successfully is confidence and this was never more evident than in the scenes where Aladdin and Princess Jasmine (Rosie Baxter) were together.
The promptings from Rachel to Rosie that “you can do this” were almost visible and, thankfully, they had the desired effect as Princess Jasmine embraced her role as the pantomime prize more and more as the play went on.
Ruth said: “ACTS goes back to the church being built in 1990 and its first production being staged two years later.
“Then it evolved into more of a drama and music group, putting on variety shows in the time when Jo and Adrian Brown were church leaders.
“When our current minister, the Rev Ann Bossingham, arrived, she suggested that we use some of her pantomimes because she is also an author and playwright.”
Karen said: “ACTS rehearses in a Friday night and we have a lot of fun. sometimes as much fun as at the actual performance. “The youngsters love it and they mix in with the older member so easily.
“In fact, the youngsters keep us going and we’d be lost without them.”
Georgina said: “We had very good audiences for Aladdin who were pantomime-trained and they are very loyal.”
In summary, Deepings Methodist Church offered a welcome and good-value production for families in the area with their version of Aladdin.
Review and interview by Winston Brown