REVIEW: Aladdin ‘fantastic’ at Sheffield City Hall

He's behind you: Manor Operatic Society in Aladdin. Picture: Steve Parkin.
He's behind you: Manor Operatic Society in Aladdin. Picture: Steve Parkin.
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HE’S top of the Emperor’s Christmas chopping list, according to Widow Twankey...

But Aladdin proved a hit with a Sheffield audience, writes Richard Marsden.

More than 1,800 people laughed, sang and clapped along at the opening performance of Manor Operatic Society’s 25th pantomime held at City Hall.

All the performers are local amateurs - some heading straight from work to the dressing room - but they put on a show to rival professionals.

There were special effects including fireworks as Aladdin, played by Emma Holmes, rubbed the magic lamp and the genie appeared on stage to grant a wish of being rich enough to marry Princess Mandarin.

Chortles were provided by Aladdin’s brother Wishee Washee - James Smith - and comic Chinese policemen Hu Dun Pong and Yu Dun Wong - Chris Hanlon and Liam Gordon.

Not to mention the great dame herself, resplendent in a multitude of costumes, a role performed by Robert Spink, plus the camp Spirit of the Ring - Gary Rossiter - and baddie Abanazar - Simon Hance - who is after Aladdin’s lamp.

The show was brought bang up to date with everything from a Gangnam Style dance to political jokes and banter about Sheffield Wednesday and United.

Other highlights included what turned into a dough fight between Widow Twankey, her sidekicks at her laundry-cum-Chinese takeaway, and the audience, as well as the traditional ‘he’s behind you’ and ‘oh no he isn’t’ moments.

Linda Kelly, co-director and choreographer, said: “We only started in September after doing a summer show. Rehearsals have been three times a week and it’s been a mammoth effort to bring it all together.”

Manor Operatic Society are now in their 25th pantomime season at Sheffield City Hall, having previously performed the show at the Montgomery Theatre, on Surrey Street since 1970.

Linda added: “I’ve been with the society for 30 years and first appeared in panto as a dancer. I’ve been Cinderella twice.”

Her partner and director, Richard Bradford, said: “We have been consistently well supported over the years and the cast does a fantastic job, especially considering most are at work, too.

“The genie, Holly Parker-Strawson, was at work at Meadowhall before the performance and just had time to rush back and put her make-up on before going on stage.

“There are also many more volunteers and family members working behind the scenes to make the show a reality. We hope our audiences enjoy it.”