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Pantomime tradition is still going strong after 42 years

PUBLISHED: 13:32 23 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:36 23 January 2018

The Loddon Players in costume for their Aladdin pantomime. 
Picture: Nick Butcher.

The Loddon Players in costume for their Aladdin pantomime. Picture: Nick Butcher.

Archant © 2018

It is 42 years since Loddon Players staged its first pantomime, establishing a tradition which is still going strong today.

The Loddon Players in costume for their Aladdin pantomime. 
Picture: Nick Butcher.The Loddon Players in costume for their Aladdin pantomime. Picture: Nick Butcher.

That is certainly the case, judging by this latest show – it is as fresh and innovative as ever, as colourful as ever, and the script, with all its local mentions, many puns and jokes as hilarious as ever.

Much creative thinking has been put into it, with some wonderful effects, and scenes, notably the magic carpet ride scene which did come across as truly magical.

Steve Bunting’s great presence as Widow Twankey gels the show together – his delivery, timing and facial expressions have come from years of experience, and to good effect. Howard Dover is a strong and fiercesome Abanazar, and the youth of the cast is led by Lauren Gray as Aladdin, who moves well, sings tunefully and works well with the Funky Feet Dancers in their routines.

Carolyn Dover takes over the role of side-kick to the Dame. It is a role previously filled for many years by Maureen Larkin, who brought her own special stamp and accent to it. Carolyn’s Dolly Tubb is different in style, but with a difficult act to follow, she does very well.

The Loddon Players in costume for their Aladdin pantomime. 
Picture: Nick Butcher.The Loddon Players in costume for their Aladdin pantomime. Picture: Nick Butcher.

Caroline Bown is the buxom and always hungry Slave of the Ring and brings a fun element to that role, while as the Genie of the Lamp Shane Baxter is nimble and genie-al. Peter Samain, as Inspector Chop, leader of the zany Peking police force, also shines, as does Beth Rose-Waghorn as Wishy Washy – she gives him a petulant teenager style which comes over effectively.

Other supporting roles are filled by Adrian Chiverton, Vicky Blanchard, Sharon Sutton, Ruth Dunning, Jude Bissett, Pauline Mason Gina Buntrock, Rebekah Wick, Jackie Bingham, Lucy Bolderston. Teaghan Doughty, Adara Sayer, Darci-Rose Sayer, Anna Harper-Bourne, Peter Moore and Damian Hagarty with confidence. The well-rehearsed Funky Feet Dancers perform their routines with nimble precision, and the costumes, as always, are colourfully inspiring, in a show directed by Jackie Bingham and produced by Steve Burton, with choreography by Vicki Codling.

The show would not be quite the same without Maureen Larkin, a founder of the pantomime tradition, who has been in every one. So was she there? The ghost script-writer found her a cameo role, and most in the audience guess who is in the all-white costume.

After all, it wouldn’t be the Loddon pantomime without Maureen, who has underpinned it as a pillar of strength from the very first show. Clearly, she is indeed the Mummy of this great community organisation!

There are further performances this week on January 25, 7.30pm; January 26, 7.30pm and January 27, 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

For tickets, call Hazel Catchpole on 01508 520162 between 9am and 9pm.

TERRY REEVE

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