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The scenery was excellent, and the use of projections on plain roll down cloths, gave this production a very good look, and also kept scene changes at a minimum.  I thought the lighting for the cave scene was very atmospheric, and the use of puppets popping out from the rocks, created a fun and colourful scene.

The magic carpet was really good – and the children loved it.  It is magic like that which engages youngsters and keeps their interest.

I loved the washing and drying machines, they were extremely well thought out, and worked really well.  

Sound effects were in keeping, and the sound in general was good.

I felt that overall this version of Aladdin was too long, and lacked a little energy and pace.  

The opening was very laid-back, although it was good scene-setter, but would have benefitted from a rousing chorus number to get everyone involved.  I’m not a fan of backing tracks, as there is no ‘flexibility’ for the performer, either in the key, or allowances for expression etc.  That said, some of the numbers worked very well, including those that the Genie of the Lamp sang, and also the Aladdin/Jasmine number on the magic carpet.

The first chorus number was a little ragged and seemed lacking in direction, as the chorus were very tentative in their singing and movement.

Babette Smith was a very cheerful and lively Aladdin – she always creates a good principal boy, and I also liked Rachel Parkins, she was a strong Jasmine, which pleased me, as so often the Princess is quite a weak part.  Nice to see the Princess standing up for her rights!

Roseanna Bloxham and Lesley Dimmock were very charming and pretty handmaidens, and again they were more vocal than is usual – which made a good impression.

Tom Crouch in his first principal role did a good job as Abanazer, and certainly looked the part – the audience loved being able to boo and hiss, and he coped well with it.  Lovely costume – which looked rich and slightly subdued in colouring, but well-suited to the character.

In fact, overall the costumes were very good – they were colourful and looked good on the cast – and Widow Twankey’s wigs were very imaginative.

Greg Rudkin-Moore gave us a good Widow Twankey, perhaps a little laid back this year, but I liked the ‘business’ with Big John – always good to have an audience focus like that.

Dave Simmonds was a fun Wishee Washee, the type of role he can lend his experience to – although the script didn’t always allow him free rein to get down with the audience and get them really involved.

Chris Armit was a suitably slimy Vizier, and also a very good ‘Mummy’ – I particularly liked the slightly different ending to the scene where the Mummy frightens the cast off the stage – it gave a different perspective to the scene.

The Emperor and Empress were quite well matched – Keith Appleby as the rather dim-witted Emperor, only interested in his toys etc, and Nerinne Truman as a much more lively, if slightly stupid Empress – again their costumes were lovely.

The Spirit of the Ring was played by Natalie Bailey-Trist, with a rather wry humour and slight Birmingham accent, I liked the eyes on her hands – a good twist.

Then we had Damien Winchester as the Genie of the Lamp – what a wonderful portrayal – for my money the star of the show, such energy and excellent characterisation, he brought the stage to life, and also showed us what a good voice he has, whilst putting over his numbers with expression and a sense of fun.

Humpfree the Camel was given such life and expression by Ashley Copeland and George Hutchinson – loved the play between it and Abanazer.

The chorus coped well with the different roles they were asked to play, and gave good backing to the principals.

All in all a fun evening, if overlong for the children in the audience, but some good scenes, and very good looking in terms of set and costume.

Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company


review date: 14th Dec 2014  

Boxmoor Playhouse

Director:  Karina Bygate &Stewart Fairthorne


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