REVIEW: ‘Aladdin The Pantomime,’ Mackay Musical Comedy Players

Aladdin The Pantomime

Mackay Musical Comedy Players

January 2018

The Central QLD Conservatorium Of Music

I just came from the Mackay Musical Comedy Players finale performance of Aladdin, and very much regret that I didn’t buy tickets earlier, because my kids missed out on a show that I know they would have loved.
Mackay has only done two pantomime performances in the last three years, starting with Cinderella in 2016 and now, Aladdin in 2017, and I hope they dust off another favourite fairytale again soon because it was an incredibly entertaining, tight and polished performance that had the children in the audience (and most of the adults) in stitches.
As pantomimes go, Aladdin was a somewhat skewed version of the fairytale made most memorable by the lovely folks of Disney, only the musical numbers had been plucked not from the Disney soundtrack, but from pop culture, which featured one of my favourite songs ‘Butterfly Kisses,’ that was broken up into three verses over the course of the production to show how the father/daughter dynamic between the king and Princess Jasmine had evolved. Every time one of those verses was sung by Greg Webb, the audience would have to have been made of stone not to well up a little because it’s a beautiful song to compliment a lovely story arc- one that has always been a favourite of mine because it’s not often that the king in any fairytale attempts to honour his daughter’s wishes to marry for love instead of wealth.

Mind you, the dynamic between the couples was the only part of the show that was moving- the rest of it was all about the puns and one-liners that you come to expect from a script like that, but the laughs were cranked up a few notches with a few physical comedy gags that were hilarious and impressive, including putting one of the leads through a human-sized washer/dryer/ press system. It was a very eclectic cast- featuring teeny-tiny baby-faced characters and local theatre veterans, and though everyone gave it 150%, I have to admit that the stand-outs for me were Chanelle Redgwell as The Slave Of the Ring ( I swear her ever-moving hands put me into a trance-like state a few times), Regan Walker as Wishee Washee, and Ken Brown as Widow Twankey because you could not take your eyes off them for a second when they were onstage. I’d never seen Princess Jasmine (Jacinta Geisler) perform before and thought her voice was the sweetest thing that I’ve heard in a while, and all of the other featured leads were as professional and polished as they always are, proving what a strong spine the MMCP has built for itself over the years through hard work and voluntary service, and once again, how bloody talented the kids of Mackay are thanks to the opportunities provided by our abundance of dance schools.

It’s usually pretty hard for me to take a pantomime seriously, but I should have known that Director Sue Dalton would have pulled out all of the stops with aplomb and honestly, the attention to detail was so spot on that the show looked as though it had had the same budget as the MMCP’s larger shows have every year thanks to the colourful, glittery costumes and the technically-perfect choreography that was performed by the student dance chorus (Courtesy of Tahlia Kelly). The background music was limited to a piano (played by musical director Jennifer Bee) and there weren’t any microphones, and yet the actors projected beautifully so that nothing was lost in translation. The sets were minimal, and yet Widow Twankey’s shabby-chic OMO laundry gown was so avant-garde that not only was is a set unto itself, but it could probably be auctioned off for The Melbourne Cup this year as a means of funding 2019’s line-up, so a standing ovation to Vicky Bobeldyk and her team of costumers and stylists for that alone! And like the kids in the audience weren’t having enough fun as it was, the cast took a few opportunities to heave candy into the audience. Naturally, I wasn’t surprised to overhear a small child begging their mother to go and see it again straight afterwards!

Bravo to every member of the cast and the production team, for Aladdin, and to the MMCP for a stellar start to their 2018 theatre calendar!
Don’t miss out like I did, book your tickets to their next, hot production, ‘Rock Of Ages’ now!