Dear Turnpike Community Theatre,
I am writing, first and foremost, to thank you all for a very enjoyable and entertaining evening last week. After being invited to the summer production of 'Turnpike Tales' back in July of this year, my family and I were more than happy to accept an invitation from Gill David to watch your latest production of 'Aladdin'. Having a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and recently completing my first novel, I have a keen interest in the arts and wanted to share a few thoughts with you about the performance.
From the very moment the lights dimmed, and the evil "Abanazar" took to the stage, the audience were instantly drawn into the opening scene. The classic pantomime interaction began immediately, as we booed and hissed at the villain, who looked the part with his tall stature, black costume and magic staff - he really revelled in the role from the outset. As the pantomime drew onwards, his reaction to the audience became more and more outrageous and his villainous character grew - a superb performance topped off with a strong rendition of his song "Gold" - he made the auditorium his own, working the room with aplomb.
We also met the characters of "Wishee-Washee" and "Widow Twanky", early on in Act One. These characters helped to redress the balance of light and dark in terms of narrative and atmosphere. Wishee-Washee was a hapless comic character, played with control, confidence and excellent stage presence. The actor was immersed in his role completely and his facial expressions and body language helped to convey the hilarious nature of this character, a facade he maintained admirably throughout. Widow Twanky's character was similarly strong - she was obviously really enjoying the performance, and this was conveyed across to the audience accordingly. Some of her innuendo was absolutely hilarious for the grown-ups in the audience, as were the one-liners! I must mention the array of fabulous costumes at this point, she seemed to change for every scene, and wigs as well as dresses!
The rest of the cast were strong also, with notable mentions for the Genie - a strong performance with a modern twist, Aladdin the dashing hero, the comedy policemen, and the beautiful princess Jasmine all adding to the magic and fun of the performance.
The narrative and flow of the story never felt laboured, and the set design was varied, colourful and slickly alternated. I particularly liked the excellent magic carpet scene. My little boy was convinced that you had actually made it fly! In addition to the flowing pace and witty script, the musical numbers enhanced the enjoyment farther. It was so good to hear the full cast singing with confidence right from the opening scenes to the closing curtain call, and it was noticeable that the cast behind the scenes in the wings also added their voices to bolster up chorus songs.
A particular highlight for our little one was the audience participation song - indeed he took the words to school the next day to sing the song to his teacher!
I would just like to thank you once more for a lovely evening. It is obvious that the company work very hard indeed and this team ethic shone through in the end product. I think that community theatre is a wonderful entity, and it is admirable how the different ages, levels of experience, confidences and personalities in your talented cast are all nurtured and utilised to their best effect.
Finally I'd like to wish you all a wonderful Christmas, and look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.