From the moment you entered Dinnet Hall, you were magically transported to Old Peking, writes Helen C Stewart.
Cast caricatures greeted you on arrival, with two colourful dragons adorning the front of the stage and the sets were excellent and colourful.
The panto had been brilliantly created by Tommy Baxter and Neil Stewart. The musical direction, under the baton of Tommy, gave both cast and audience a feast of musical numbers. Tommy not only works as musical director but also as director/choreographer.
Neil Stewart (Abanazar) painted the sets, choreographed the ensemble numbers, as well as proving a force to be reckoned with in his role. He had a strong, hypnotic voice, mesmerising all around him as he tried to retrieve the elusive lamp, eliciting boos and hisses from the audience.
The dame, Widow Twankee, played by John Doherty, was a first-timer in the role. He had the whole audience in the palm of his hand for the duration of the show with his comic timing. His Marilyn Monroe fantasy sequence was a particular highlight.
Peter Henry, as Wishee Washee, captured the hearts of the audience from the moment he entered the auditorium asking “Has anyone seen my Ma?” He asked us to “Bung it on the Bonsai” whenever he came on stage wherein he watered his money tree.
This year, Aladdin and Princess So-Shi made their debut in principal roles. Gillian Henry gave a boisterous, cheeky yet very caring Aladdin who accompanied “Uncle” Abanazar in search of riches to win the hand of Princess So-Shi.
Jenny Cox was a beautiful So-Shi with gung-ho spirit, and both Gillian and Jenny demonstrated excellent acting and singing in their scenes together.
Dim Sum, played hilariously by Wilma Doherty, was the matriarchal chaperone of the Princess. Her ‘Y Dance’ routine had the audience in stitches.
Officers Pee Hi (Steve Ewen) and Pee Lo (Gareth Johnston) showed great energy, keeping the momentum and fun going throughout whether they were pulling laundry lines of washing over the audiences heads, being bundled into washing machines or diving through mangles. The Emperor One Hung Lo (Steve McNeney), and Empress Who Flung Dung (Moira Milne) gave continued regal presence for the duration.
Not one, but two magical genies were part of this production. As Jeanie Needlehole, the Genie of the Ring, Margaret McNaught had the audience in stitches. Genie of the Lamp, Matt Milne, gave a fun, energetic performance from the moment he was released from his lamp. Able support was given by Rebecca Robertson, Yvonne Wallace, Michael Reid and Duncan Robertson in the ensemble.
No pantomime is complete without a children’s chorus and special mention must go to Cameron, Christina, Chloe, Georgia, Jamie, Nicholas, Rebecca and Taylor who were all enchanting as child slave labour in Widow Twankee’s laundry.
The real coup de theatre was saved until the finale when Aladdin and Princess So-Shi flew out on the carpet, over the audience, to the back of the hall.
Well Done Dinnet Panto - I shall be back next year!