Latest Kirrie panto was rip-roaring fun

KIRRIEMUIR Panto Group staged a production of Aladdin in Kirriemuir Town Hall last week – and what a good job they made of it.

This was a traditional panto, performed in a traditional way. The whole thing ripped along at a cracking pace and from start to finish was pure and simply great fun. Pantomimes can be enjoyed on several levels. For the adults the action on stage and the reaction of the children in the audience can be equally enjoyable, especially when the children are enthralled – and they certainly were at the Saturday matinee which I attended. It is wonderful that a traditional panto can still appeal to the X-Box/Playstation generation.

This panto contained all the classic ingredients of singing, dancing, comic routines (with numerous local references), an evil villain and the noisy responses of audience participation.

Principal Boy Naomi Weir played the part of Aladdin very well. Her singing, dancing and acting were all of a high standard and she will be a great asset to the panto group in the future. Jim Walker as Wishee Washee, Aladdin’s inadequate brother was as ever ebullient and energetic in the part. He has great stage presence and seems to inspire those around him.

The Dame in a panto has a pivotal role and Widow Twankey was played with great gusto by James Arnott.

He literally threw himself into the part, being willing to take many a tumble just for laughs. He must be bruised from head to foot! He was superb in the role and there was a real chemistry between him and Jim Walker when they indulged in their double act.

Another double act was Minnie (Paula Milne) and Winnie (Jennifer Anderson). Exuberant Minnie and droll Winnie with their Glasgow patter were a constant source of fun throughout.

Both Paula and Jennifer played their parts to perfection.

Ellen Brooks made a first class Princess Jasmine, she sang and acted well. Her duet with Aladdin was particularly good.

Abanazar is the archetypal pantomime villain with menace and evil seeping from every pore. He shows disdain for everything and everybody being only interested in his own welfare. Neil Patterson captured the character perfectly and his interaction with the audience was first class. Neil was born to be a villain!

Emperor Roo Ling Yu (Thomas Thain) and his attendant One Long Pong (Rob Hardman) played their minor parts very well. Samara Langlands as Slave of the Ring, Douglas Taylor as the genie and Erin Cattamach as The Vendor all made positive contributions to the success of the production.

A special word must go to Clarence the Camel (Nichola O’Connor and Cara David) as the first camel I have seen doing the “Ali Shuffle”! Well done girls!

Palace Guards were played by Andy Menmuir, Leigh Clark, Graham Turner and Lorcam Dyer.

The chorus were first class. They were clearly well schooled by musical director Gary Lawrence and vocal tutor Helen Shearer ably assisted by drummer Drew Barnett and percussionist Darren Neave.

The scene changes were all slick and the special effects were spot on. Stage manager Kris McWalter must take credit for this.

Special mention must be made of the dancing girls, Shannon Campbell, Rebecca Hardie, Stephanie Hunter, Shannon Campbell and Lucy Upton, who performed all their stunning routines with precision and perfect timing. Choreographer for the production was Stephanie Hunter.

A successful show requires many parts of a jig-saw to come together. On stage has to be right, back-stage was to be right and front of house has to be right.

Last week in Kirriemuir Town Hall it was. A lot of hard work had obviously gone into the production and the experience, expertise and imagination of producers Jim Walker and Chris Smillie was evident throughout. The whole company should be proud of what they achieved – they seem to improve every year.

I hope they keep up the good work in years to come. As for this year’s production, to quote young Mr Grace “You all did very well!”

By Bill Drew.