Aladdin – KYDS
Directed by Alex Berriman 25th November 2016
It is always such a treat to visit KYDS in Tiptree as the excitement of the youngsters involved plus the full houses really makes me smile every time I go. Their Christmas production of Aladdin was this year filled with promise as new members had taken over the main roles and I was eager to see this new team and how they developed as a company.
KYDS use the local school and only have a very short dress rehearsal the night before then just a couple of hours to set up lights sound and flats. Disaster struck the first night when all the data crashed and ways had to be found to get the computer working again. Just when they thought they would have to cancel to a completely full house it worked and the supportive audience cheered. It just goes to show what a great team KYDS have.
The tabs opened to a black silhouette of the buildings in Old Peking and four stalls and a beautifully costumed colourful ensemble. A good choice of opening song with ‘Come and See’ and then on came one of the stars of the show Charlie Warner playing Wishee Washee. His energy, characterisation and singing voice were really superb and really set the scene for the forthcoming panto.
The next treat on stage was the three Dames; Twankey, Twinkey and Twonkey (Morgan Sheldon, Tyler Mansfield and Tommy Metcalf), with fabulous costumes and wigs and great comedic fun. They obviously had a great time playing these wonderful over the top characters and the audience loved them. Plenty of slapstick fun and of course the custard pie sketch which always causes great hilarity from the audience. I also loved the stage manager who slid on and cleaned up the mess. (Shades of ]The Play that goes Wrong] came to mind!)
Aladdin and the Princess (Daisy Loerns & Grace Robards) were well matched in voice and character and Aladdin’s mature improvisation on stage during the technical hitches was great to see. Not once did it faze them when one of the songs that they were supposed to sing didn’t happen but they kept going. Well done both of you.
Some lovely cameo acts. I really liked Stir Wok and Fry Wok who do work so well together. The Genie of the Lamp and Ring had lots of energy and who doesn’t like a pantomime camel? Not to be outdone the evil Abanazer was changed to Ethelazar a witch excellently played by Ellie Russell. Wonderfully nasty she really got the audience booing.
I can’t mention everyone but it was a very entertaining evening and you could see that all enjoyed it. A good smiling ensemble and audience song at the end made us all feel very festive. Congratulations to all the backstage crew who worked so hard to put on this show and technical team who overcame the computer issues. Very well done and keep going Kyds.
NORTH ESSEX THEATRE GUILD
SHOWCASE FESTIVAL 2016-2017
KYDS YOUTH DRAMA SOCIETY
This was my first visit to this exuberant youth group but not my first visit to Thurstable School. How it has all changed! The theatre was large and spacious but as it is a community venue, I believe there are various restrictions to be adhered to. However, this didn’t seem to dent anyone’s enthusiasm, neither the cast nor the audience!
Front of House
There was a very friendly atmosphere and everyone was most helpful. There were a number of young people involved front of house and all keen to support their friends and the society. There were plenty of production photos on show, refreshments in the interval served by a number of adult helpers aiming to satisfy both the adults with their cups of coffee/tea and the youngsters with a variety of drinks. The younger members of the audience were encourage to buy (at least their parents were) flashing batons that made an exciting start to the show for them and whole ambience was designed to put the audience of all ages in a happy mood before the pantomime began.
This was colourful and well designed and full of information.: the background of the group, a synopsis, details and pictures of the cast members and of rehearsals, an impressive list of thanks and various invitations to join the group. All supporting the feeling of enthusiasm engendered throughout. It was good to see that KYDS makes the majority of its own sets and props.
Sets and Stage Management
As with most pantomimes, there was a variety of different scenes demanding a variety of different pieces of scenery. None of these could be too permanent as the changes were too frequent. The market was well suggested with stalls and the laundry with the mangle and washing machines. The kitchen made the most of an oversize microwave and the cave was quite impressive. I particularly liked the skyline behind the royal palace which was almost Disney like. All these changes were quickly and efficiently carried out as was the process of getting a large and excited cast on and off stage with speed and purpose. All were obviously very well drilled.
The props were generally larger than life, as befits a pantomime, and I thought the giant wringer through which Wishee Washee made an entrance and exit was excellent. There were plenty of Chinese items such as the woks and the usual pieces of laundry and ruined laundry. I thought the cake could have been larger especially after it came out of the microwave, but I’m sure Long Pong thought the cream pie was sufficient.
Lighting and Sound
Lighting was generally bright and clear and changed effectively for the ‘evil’ scenes such as the cave etc. It lacked specials, such as for the slave of the ring but I believe that was due to the equipment in use. However, there were sufficient differences to keep everyone’s interest. There were also lots of different scenes to deal with as well.
Sound and music were provided by computer and the cast had been well drilled as to the timing to expect, especially in ensemble numbers. The soloists all had the use of mikes but there were some problems here at times with the amplification and who was singing when.
The number of costumes produced was impressive and the variety of types and styles made for a very colourful show. Each character, especially in the ensemble numbers, seemed to have constant changes and must have worked as hard getting dressed off stage as performing on stage. Everything worn suggested the Chinese background of the pantomime whether rich or poor, whether it was one of the Woks, Ratman, Long Pong or the Princess. The costumes which really stood out were those worn by the Widows Twankey, Twinkey and Twonkey, especially the headgear, Ethelazar, the Genie, and the Princess. However, there was enough glitter and glitz to make for a real pantomime effect. The one costume that was perhaps a little disappointing was the Emperor’s which seemed rather too big and not very impressive.
The Play Script by Richard Coleman
The pantomime chosen was ideal for this youth group. The jokes were very ‘comey’ and the audience loved all those old favourites. It was suitable for the cast and the age of the actors and the audience certainly appreciated it. There were a number of varied scenes and a large cast of parts for a variety of abilities. It has been done before by the group and so was tried and tested.
The large cast worked well together from the smallest, youngest actor to the more experienced members of the troupe. Workshops and rehearsals obviously have the required effect and have certainly proved essential to success.
Aladdin (Daisy Loerns)
Daisy gave a mature and confident performance. She had good stage presence, and sang well throughout with good diction and a nice clear voice. She dealt with a variety of situations in a calm manner and established a good relationship with the Princess. Both worked well together. At times here delivery was too rapid but definitely a young lady of promise.
Wishee Washee (Charlie Warner)
Charlie had a very large part and was on stage for a large percentage of the time. He was confident, larger than life, irrepressible and seemed to have rubber legs that kept him bouncing throughout to good effect. He established himself from his first entry and maintained his enthusiasm to the very end. A good singing voice and a very pleasant stage persona. He made the most of the dialogue and was not afraid to take on the audience directly. He managed the audience sing a long admirably with a confidence beyond his years. I particularly enjoyed his entrance and exit through the mangle.
Widow Twankey (Morgan Sheldon)
Morgan made a very good dame and with all the trimmings. I felt he gained in confidence as the show progressed and was then able to make the most of his relationship with the other two widows and the audience. He was not afraid to be outrageous and made the most of his costumes and headdresses. He played well with the Emperor. Good sense of humour and singing and dancing of a high standard.
Widow Twinkey (Tyler Mansfield)
Tyler worked well with the other two widows. He managed to develop a contrasting character to the other two and sang and danced with confidence. He was also not afraid of engaging with the audience and displayed obvious enjoyment on stage.
Widow Twonkey (Tommy Metcalf)
Tommy had a very expressive face and used his body language to advantage. He gave a lively and assured performance and was very good at playing with and to the audience. His on-going conversation with a man in the audience was expertly carried out. He showed a good sense of humour and had an excellent sense of comic timing.
The three widows worked very well together. They all managed to look outrageous sang clearly and tunefully and demonstrated their dancing skills which were admirable. Their rendition of the Can Can was excellent and extremely energetic. It left the audience worn out let alone anyone on stage. Good team work from this trio.
Princess Wong (Grace Robards)
Grace played the delicate heroine with a mind of her own. She looked charming, she sang with a clear and pretty voice and danced well. She definitely made the most of her part.
A Long Pong (Matthew Greed)
Matthew had a hard time at the hands of the cast. Shouted at, pushed around, the victim of the ‘custard pie’ and generally made himself a nuisance, but he did it all very well and with vim and vigour. He actually had a lot to do and spent some time on stage and displayed a confident stage presence. Well done.
Emperor Wong (Harry Yelland)
Harry relished the part and generally enjoyed himself on stage throughout. He had to be mean and nasty, to fight off Widow Twankey (not very successfully) and try to get rid of Aladdin (not very successfully) but he did it all with confidence and style. He could have been rather more imposing and regal.
Ethelazar (Ellie Russell)
Ellie made an excellent baddie and really made the most of her part. She established her evil character from the first moment on stage and maintained and developed it throughout. Her body language was good and this together with facial expressions was enough to frighten anyone. She had a clear voice but she was very nasty with it. Lot of confidence and stage presence, well done.
Genie of the Lamp / Ensemble (Olly Smith)
Olly had a very ‘spooky’ costume and make up. He gave a lively performance and was enjoying himself on stage. He did tend to overdo the ad libs and thus upstaged his fellow actors. He had plenty of confidence and generally used this to his advantage.
Slave of the Ring (Matilda Hens)
Matilda made the very most of her part and developed her character to full advantage. She was a good match for the Genie and for her size created a big stage presence. Good work here.
Stir Wok / Ensemble (Amy Swallow)
Amy made the very most of her part in both the market as a a guard for the ‘baddie’. She and her sidekick, or twin, created a good comic double act together.
Fry Wok / Ensemble (Millie Sheldrick)
Millie too worked hard and had a good sense of comedy. She worked very well indeed with Amy and the two of them created some very funny moments between them.
Clarence the Camel / Ensemble (Ellie Macey and Lola Emson)
I loved the Clarence. The costume was such a good idea as it left both actors upright. My only complaint is that there wasn’t enough of them!!!!!
Ratman / The Medicine Seller / Bryan the iPhone / Ensemble
(Marcus, Tom and Danny)
Marcus, Tom and Danny showed how much they enjoyed their smaller parts. They spoke loudly, they engaged the audience and made the most of every minute on stage. It was good to see the younger members of the group taking parts and thus preparing themselves for bigger roles later on.
Ensemble (together with those mentioned above), Alexis Reeve, Daniel Owen, Annabel Bradshaw, Mia Cox, Eden Hewes, Emily Hatton, Emily Upton, Eva Guerra, Ethan Maiden, Grace Upton, Madison Macey, Shannon Owen.
I was most impressed with all the ensemble work. The singing and dancing were always of a high standard and all the members of the ensemble were very well rehearsed and drilled. I think it was a major achievement that they all had the right costumes on at the right time! The choreography was imaginative and seldom repetive and the whole area available was used. Excellent discipline here and, as with the whole pantomime, an enthusiastic approach by the entire ensemble.
Direction by Alexandra Berriman and Assistant Director Joanne Greed
The Direction made the most of every opportunity presented by the script. The pace of the production was excellent and the cast well prepared with good timing and characterisations larger than life as required by pantomime. The relationships between characters and the audience was well developed and the cast had a mature approach to this. The sing a long overseen by Wishee Washee and the 2 Woks was great fun and carried out with apparent ease.
The whole stage area was well used and necessarily so with such a large cast o manage. There was also much good work for the Choreographer, Heather Scott Martin and the Vocal Coach, George Ure. All cast members were easily heard, and obviously not all had mikes, and as I said above the dances were imaginative and well executed. Well done to the team.
This was a throughoughly enjoyable evening made more so by the infectious enthusiasm of cast, front of house and all the helpers. I spent some time getting the rice of our my hair but I didn’t get any of the sweets!!!!
Adjudicator: Eddie McKay
Accompanied by Peter McKay