Dick Whittington, Panto, Winter ’16/’17

theatre misc


So. panto.

Yes, I liked it. Loved the stage presence that is JB. Loved him singing Dreamers together with Jodie Prenger. Loved him doing the 13 days of xmas again. Loved him singing two more songs with the ensemble dancers. Loved In the Navy. (JB wore tight tight tight white shorts with possibly something under them but if so, it was barely visible. Loved him drool over a cool „audience member“ who then did a brilliant stunt on the balcony to have him quip „he’s not the first one to fall head over heels“ and „My husband’s only due tomorrow“. Loved him drooling over the Sultan (who was scantily clad and very buff indeed) and was glad when he stopped mimicking the man’s speech pattern.

Loved the wonderful costumes (and boy, can tights be tight… and knickers can betray you so hard… got an eyeful when JB „slipped“ with wee Kranky in the 12 days of xmas)

Started to really like comedian Matt Slack whose name I never heard before. He’s apparently impersonating loads of local VIPs – the only one I recognised was Len Goodman – ah the joy of being a foreigner. Didn’t help at all that he was talking with a heavy heavy brummie accent.

Hated Slack when he interacted with 4 kids – he was eye rolling and generally making fun of them when they didn’t respond the way he wanted them to. I guess that’s funny in an unkind way, but I wasn’t liking that. He only had 3 goodie bags, too, and tricked the last kid with a bell which  didn’t ring to summon the fairy. ( he was totally lost and not handling it at all when in one performance a boy with a goodie bag came back on stage to give the devastated kid without one HIS!!!!) As you can see, this local hero was on stage entirely too often together with the Dame – his mom – played by Andrew Ryan whom I don’t know. And they did another wordplay where the Dame tells her story about last night’s date, just this time not with chocolates, but with dvds. Funny, but old.

Funny, but old – the Krankies. I like them both. They are nice and hard working and fun and all that. But their act hasn’t changed in all the years that I’ve seen it. Not one bit. „Picking on me“ I can’t hear it any longer. Ditto material girl from MacDonna or the dreadful „Funny Boy“ …

Again a scene in two bed chambers with ghosties and ghoolies  coming out and the same jokes like every year between JB and the Krankies.

Jodie Prenger. Barely on stage. Two songs, brilliantly done. I would’ve really loved to see more of her.

The Cat. Twice on stage. No contribution to the story that was chopped up heavily to fit yet another scetch, yet another scene in.

Alice – the love interest. Twice on stage, so that Matt Slack joked: She’s not even on the poster. The marriage won’t last – they met twice.

The Panto was not a story told – it was a bunch of scenes, strung along a bunch of solos for Slack, the rat king, (both locals) and the Dame. JB was not enough on this time and having seen him in other pantos I do understand that he takes it easier this time – it’s just a bit of a let down.

The tech stuff:

A huge (half) rat that came out in the audience on a large black iron arm. Really well done, too.

A sleigh with JB in it, with Rudolf the Reindeer in front, that came out in the audience on a large black iron arm. made a weird upside down roll to show what that black iron arm can do.

Also some 3-D-stuff when they are “drowning”. Not very impressive.


stage door – as always, John shone! how he does it, I don’t know. I also don’t understand why ppl barely listen to him. He asks for a bit more room, ppl come closer. I wish they’d understand that this is not something included in the ticket price. stage door is a privilege, not a given.


Cinderella – Panto Jan. 2nd to 4th, 2015

theatre misc

So, Panto. I so hope I remember everything vital. Not just I’m all about that bass… LOL

It starts off with the magnificent Fairy godmother (Melanie Masson), who flies onto the stage sitting on a glittery moon, singing and being all around gorgeous and lovely. (Plus: a huge bonus: she has a wonderful voice and is a joy to listen to)

We are all netted into helping her and her girl Cinderella (Rachel Flynn) to find happiness and love, and we love it. Then we get introduced to Cinders‘ two ugly sisters (or almost sisters as the marriage has not yet taken place) – and we hate them – they’re awful bullies. But they are singing Born This Way and I have to admit: great voices as well! (Graham Hoadley and Wayne Fitzsimmons who took the part when Pete Gallagher wasn’t able to perform with only a week of rehearsal) They treat Cinderella, their sister to be, like their maid or worse and walk away leaving the poor girl in tears; she wanted to go to the Prince’s ball where Charming is supposed to find a wife. The ugly sisters hope it’s one of them. We know it’s not. Oh no, it’s not…

In the meantime Baron Hardup (Ian Krankie) o fHardup Hall (and yes, there were jokes…) and Buttons‘ wee brother Zip (Jeannette Krankie) – with zips all over his jacket and cap – explain, that the marriage is a must as Baron Hardup is skint. They go off in search of Buttons.

It’s then the elusive Buttons (John Barrowman) shows up – in a GRAND entrance – he’s in a hot air balloon, slowly descending and singing Happy – much better than Pharrell Williams ever could. It turns out that he is in loooooove with Cinders but doesn’t dare tell her, so he’d bought her a present even though Hardup pays him only buttons. He puts it in a corner and we’re roped in to alert him if/when anyone comes too close. First it’s the ugly sisters, then it’s Zip – and hilarity ensues as the wee lad can’t reach to high five Buttons. He low fives him onto the `nads.

In the meantime we meet the gorgeous Prince Charming (young Lawrence Robb), who was summoned home to pick a wife, and his suave servant/bodyguard/swordpartnerDandini (Gregor Stewart… yes, thankyou, soooo much eye candy) – over a playfight with swords they discuss the Prince’s frustration about having to marry – until Charming comes up with a plan: Dandini should be impersonating him on a last trip to the village so that he, Charming, would be able to maybe find a girl who’d love him for who he is, not for what he is.

Then Cinders sees the „package“ (yes, he’s packed his package for her) and Buttons tries to woo her with a song (Listen to the Music) but to no avail. She has to rush off into the woods.

In the woods the ugly sisters are out hunting for a Prince, but Charming’s plan works – both sisters dressed in bags (Zenga in a handbag, and „what’s that tartan (tart in)“? – Sadie in a tartan golfbag) go for the fake prince and run after Dandini. And it’s now that the real Prince meets Cinderella for the first time – and it’s loooooove. He invites her as Dandini to the ball and she accepts but only if he, Dandini, is going to be there – she’s not hot for the prince at all…

So Charming – as Dandini – sings to Cinders, while sitting on a wall (Everything I do, I do it for you) as Buttons comes back – and he is appalled – HIS Cinders duetting with a stranger. He tries to sabotage the wooing by popping up between and under them, then topples Charming off the wall, then gets toppled off, pushes Cinders, the Prince, it’s a hilarious stint that has everyone in stitches. And all the while all three keep singing, without missing a beat or a note.

Charming keeps his word – he delivers invitations to the Hardup household – and is once again confronted with the ugly sisters who race him to have a practice run for their marriage with the Prince (Dandini) . Buttons delivers the invitation to Cinders, but the ugly sisters force the poor girl to tear it up (while being booed by the audience of course) and all Buttons can do i scheer her up (You to me are Everything).

But now the Fairy godmother comes into play: (One night only) she givesCinders another invitation, a dress, a coach, a coachman (Buttons), sparkly slippers and a curfew – midnight. And to The Power of Love the white coach takes to the air thanks to a white winged horse and off to the Prince’s castle.

Snow is falling onto the audience and everyone goes awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww


Meanwhile at the ball Dandini and Charming both hope Cinders will show up, even though she’s not a lady (it’s a man??? Dandini asks flabberghasted, no, just not a titled lady) – to the rhythm of We Danced All Night. The ugly sisters show up, dressed in chandeliers. (yes, they’re the entertainment – the light entertainment) and Baron Hardup as well.

And then finally Princess Starlight enters (yes, it’s our Cinders) and she goes straight to Dandini (Charming) who opens the dance with her. He has a lot to explain…

Then the „light entertainment“ starts and it is over the top hilarious. Both ugly sisters and Buttons (who wanted to go to the ball with Zip – undercover) show up in teeny tiny skirts (Buttons‘ had a wonky zipper and kept almost falling down) and paper mache tops with huuuuuuge fringed boobs. They sing I’m All About that Bass and from the second refrain on … the boobs sing too. It’s indescribably awesome. This leads to Buttons flirting with Dandini. Then Zip shows up as Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball singing I Wrecked The Ball.

And just as the Prince declares hislove for Cinderella it’s midnight and Cinders runs.

With her slipper in hand he sings A Moment Like This.

Back by public demand: the twelve nights of christmas. I think I peed myself there. I know I hurt my cheeks. Last show: John threw the loo-rolls towards his husband Scott and then forced him under his kilt to kiss his crotch. „That was my husband, it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before…“

Cinders is devastated she had to run and Buttons tries to cheer her up by finally giving her his package – it’s an ubercute Teddy Bear (song: Power of Love) but she rejects him – she loves Buttons, but as a brother. So he claims his Teddy again (on a loooooong note of let’s face the music and daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaance)

But Buttons is so very sad – together with his Teddy he sings When You Tell Me that You Love Me and uses the ubercute bear as a kind of glove puppet, so that the stuffed cutie interacts with him. Awwwwwwwww

Meanwhile the mean ugly sisters kidnap Cinders (who has possession oft he other glittery shoe left!) and hide her in the cellar with Boris (a gigantinormous Spider) as her guard to get her out of the way as the Prince comes to try HIS find, the second glittery shoe, on every maid in town, to discover his future bride.

Needless to say that we tell Buttons where to find Cinders and he saves her. Just in time!

The Prince has already handed over the shoe to Zenga – no fit just stinky feet and a looooong stocking, and to Sadie – and it FITS Sadie!!! But it fits on an artificial leg, as Dandini finds out, and soon Sadie is „legless again“. With the help of the Fairy Buttons and Cinderella are saved from the locked wobbly wardrobe (which is the secret walkway to the cellar) and Cinders is able to try on the shoe. Awwwwwwwwww

So at least for Cinders and Charming there’s a happily ever after. Buttons – despite flirting outrageously with Dandini AGAIN – is left sad and lonely. But the Fairy tells him that he’ll find happiness soon – Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

And then it ends and it’s over and we’re all sad. But we, the audience, collected more than 25.000 pounds for a down syndrom charity, which is brilliant!

Stage door: as always The Barrowman was patient and professional and taking the time to sign and selfie with everyone. But everyone else was just as charming and sweet and patient! The only „problem“ were the ugly sisters – we didn’t really recognise them because of their hideous make-up which took 90 mins to apply. Lol

Especially sweet: Dandini and Prince Charming who was obviously enjoying the interaction with a bunch of crazy ladies with sharpies. LOL

Many thanks to Gabe and Katrin for their invaluable input. XXX

Panto – Jack and the Beanstalk Dec.15th,’12

theatre misc

It is FUN in capital letters, or as my friend Bev said: organised mayhem on stage. It is the perfect way to introduce children and even grown-ups to theatre magic, even though the jokes are sometimes well known and therefore well loved. It is an endearing story, made even more lovable by the sheer exhausting efforts of John Barrowman who owns the stage the minute he’s on it and eclipses most of his co-actors (with the exception of Ashley Grey as the marvellous Fairy Firefly and Pete Gallagher as the most brilliant bad guy ever to grace a stage). Princess Apricot doesn’t stand a chance (both in the acting as well as in the singing department she is clearly the weakest link in this production but she is improving nicely as the shows continue so I am more than happy to give her credit for working on her skills. her voice is still not very strong though, I am afraid), her father, King Crumble, has some clownish appearances (he is hard of hearing and misinterprets stuff in the most hilarious way) that would have been even more awesome hadn’t Barrowman already covered that basis with his own antics. And John even managesto reduce the Krankies to feeding him cues in some of the scenes – which is not a bad thing at times.

The story is set with the entrance of the Villain, Pete Gallagher at his best, named Fleshcreep – he is servant to Giant Blunderbore who lives in Cloudland and oppresses the people of  Inverweedge: even though they have no more money, they must pay him tribute or hand over their cattle to survive.  But Fairy Firefly, speaking in rhyme and forcing Fleshcreep into her rhythm as well, announces that the reign of the evil Giant will soon be over: a young hero named Jack Trott will kill him and save the people of Inverweedge from him. Fleshcreep highly doubts that (in rhyme).

Enter the townspeople and Princess Apricot. She has fallen in love but doesn’t say who the guy is to whom she’s lost her heart.

She doesn’t have to, though. Jack Trott comes on stage – with a jetpack he sails down from above, all in blue leather and with “Let me Entertain you!” (and all the women in the audience silently or not so silently screaming: yes, please) he strips off his leather pants (the hormone levels in the audience spike for the first, certainly not for the last time) and his leather gloves.

He’s also fallen in love – the princess is his chosen! There are the usual hint hint, nudge nudge jokes that have the audience in stitches and then everybody prepares for the fair. there the king declares that whoever is going to kill Giant Blunderbore will get the princess’ hand in marriage. Fleshcreep utters threats and everybody runs, only Jack stays – he confides in Jimmie Krankie that he’ll go and fight the Giant in order to win Apricot’s hand. But when he finally faces her, he is tonguetied and him trying to kiss her is interrupted by Fairy Firefly and ends in merciless ribbing from his brother wee Jimmie. The fair is in full swing when the Giant makes himself heard and everybody runs.

Jack prepares for his adventure – he comes back on stage – prepare yourselves – on HORSEBACK!!! He’s a beautiful golden gelding and very clever too – he even lies down to go to bed – helped by loads of treats from Jack of course, and then just lies there happily munching carrots and listening to a beautiful lullaby sung by John.

Meanwhile at the Trott’s farm money is tight. In order to survive they need to sell their only cow, Day-zee – a rapping cow! It is Jack’s duty to prepare the loved animal for selling (“If you leave me (C)now”) which is accompanied by much crying on both parts. But then Jack seems to be in luck: he meets a rich stranger who gives him gold for the cow – unfortunately it turns out to be Fleshcreep who abducts Day-zee and gives Jack beans instead of gold nuggets. When father Trott (Ian Krankie) finds that out, he throws the beans out. There follows a hilarious scene in the bedroom of the family starting with “behave yourselves – we don’t want to end up in the papers like last year” from Ian Krankie!

Fairy Firefly tries to help Jack on his quest and puts a spell on the beans – they grow fast and high till they reach Cloudland. In the meantime, Princess Apricot is abducted by Fleshcreed as an offering to the Giant. So the next morning Jack and Jimmie climb the huge beanstalk to face the Giant and save Apricot. (There’s a very funny yet moving exchange about Jeanette Krankie never again falling off a beanstalk – it’s been eight years since she had her aweful accident in another production of Jack and the Beanstalk).


Cloudland is introduced to us with a brillant rock number by Fleshcreep who “Can’t be tamed” – and it’s a brilliant number indeed – Gallagher knows his rock’n’roll! Btw: I asked Pete Gallagher (who is very approachable and sweet and patient with his fans!) where that song came from and he says it’s a Miley Cyrus pop song! they just “rocked it up” to fit his voice!! they – and he – does an incredible job – I really have to try very hard to see him in a musical as soon as possible!)

In Cloudland not only Jack and Jimmie, but also the Fairy and father Trott arrive on top of the beanstalk. now they have to disguise themselves to pass the Giant’s guards. Now this is the moment when the Trotts don hideous huge red wigs and kilts and create the plan to enter the castle posing as Scottish carol singers. and to rehearse for that, they and Fairy Firefly start “the twelve days of christmas”.

What now follows, can not be described. There are water pistols involved (and therefore water. lots of water – so much water the musicians were given umbrellas on the second day to protect themselves). And five rolls of toilet paper that inevitably find their way into the audience. Twice!! And “A fairy at the top of the Tree” – now guess who that fairy is in all twelve stanzas – and he even curtseys prettily. I swear, I will  NEVER EVER be able to hear this carol without starting to giggle uncontrollably. Oh, and John wears tighty whities under the kilt who almost gleam when he rolls on the stage with Jeanette and Ian Krankie.

We have 3-D tricks coming now – and they get better every year. Finally they detect the princess in her cage in the kitchen of the cruel Giant and rescue her. Together with cow Day-zee they make it back to the beanstalk, while Fairy Firefly distracts Fleshcreep – they have a brilliant duett together.

And after they arrive back on their farm, Jack cuts the Beanstalk and the Giant hopefully falls to his death. a life and death fight with Fleshcreep ensues (I love the swordfights between John and Pete) and Fleshcreep loses. What are we going to do with him? Kill him!!! We can’t kill anyone in Pantomime…!

So Fleshcreep is sentenced to pamper Day-zee – a chore he doesn’t enjoy at all. Even less so as Princess Apricot and Jack Trott are soon going to be happily married and finally allowed to kiss!

Then the Krankies come back and instead of their usual number they’re celebrating the Scottish success at the 2012 Olympics. And the audience is happily participating. It’s a great end that gives the rest of the cast a chance to change dresses for the great finale – even though nobody wants it to end yet.

Now I already talked about the main cast – and I mentioned the beautiful gelding Charlie who hasn’t left anything behind in the two first shows 😉

So it is time to talk about the dancers: the boys are a sight for sore eyes – with James Titchener probably being John’s favorite in all his blond, sleek glory, and Jamal Crawford clearly the audiences first choice. Crawford is still so taken by his fame at the stagedoor, it’s very endearing – also he is an incredibly fit and physical guy, so it’s no surprise he has to sign autographs after each performance 😉 the whole group is very well trained and incredibly precise on stage and a joy to watch.

Also: I think the “broken” toe John suffered was because of Charlie but I could be wrong.

Also: At some point John is CRAWLING through the rows to follow his wayward toilet rolls. Believe me, he does wear underwear under that kilt of his. As some men can vouch for as he was hovering on the armrests of the seats over them.

Also: At the stagedoor – everybody is VERY friendly, VERY patient and VERY helpful. please do not take this for granted.  They are not paid to be that way. it’s just who they are, so be grateful and respectful, please!

Also: if you are a young soldier, coming back from Afghanistan, and confiding to John that his music had helped him through this experience, prepare to be flirted at, patted and allowed to lift John up for a photo op!

Also: you are really lucky when a couple of schools are attending the matinee. We had so much fun, surrounded by kids from 5 to 10 at the most. we saw a very different show but it was incredibly funny to see how the puns were adjusted to the age group and how caring John told the kids they would be safe with Jack and the Gang. Bonus: of course the grown ups got the brunt of the water battle – and yes, we got wet!!! And we also were lucky enough to sit front row and had Fleshcreep shamelessly flirt with us. absolutely amazing!

song list:

I’m horrifically bad at this, but trying, I’m trying

Let me Entertain you (John, coming with a jetpack)

love song (by princess, no idea which)

I’m missing a song of Firefly – sorry, I can’t remember the title

I’m a believer (John and princess – plus she sings: I thought love was more or less a given thing – means the more I gave the MORE i get and I think the correct text is the more I gave the LESS I got…)

lullaby (Jack to horse charlie)

If you leave me COW (Jack to Day-zee the cow)

I’m on the edge (John, climbing the beanstalk)

I can’t be tamed (Pete Gallagher/Fleshcreep)

Gangnam style (very short, by Jeannette – hilarious and during the kids’ matinee all the wee ones got up and danced with her!!! John was overwhelmed!!!! loved it!!!)

Daddy I’m falling for the monster (Fairy Firefly and Fleshcreep – and god, it’s brilliant – awesome acting on both parts, great voices as well!!!)

pick pick picking on me (Jeanette)

Mull of Kintyre (Jack and father Trott)

The twelve days of christmas (which I will never ever be able to hear without breaking out in the giggles)

more after the next shows!

Aladdin – last two performances, Jan.9th, 2011

As always the last matinee of a Pantomime is the one show you do not want to miss – it’s the show where the mishaps are deliberately created by the actors to derail them. It’s hilarious. If you’ve seen a “normal” performance before, that is…

When the curtain goes up to the very first song, not only were all the male dancers without shirts – and yummie they looked! -,  John’s dresser Finlay was also still on stage and fiddling with John’s black pants. I asked him later if there was a hole or something, but he just laughed and replied, “no, John was just being very naughty again!”.

The half naked dancers had a nice effect on John, though. By the end of “Let’s get this party started” he slipped out of his jerkin and started to pull his white shirt out of his pants. and was gone from the stage before flesh showed!

Then the script made an appearance on stage again during the first dialogue of the Krankies ( oh, look, not opened…) and clearly it was John whose finger pointed to parts of the scripted jokes! But this time toilet paper was rolling onto the stage and unravelling!

During the song 500 miles John grabbed one of the dancer’s butt, but his retaliation came fast:

During the scene where Churchill appears on top of a box  (“product placement!”) there was banging to be heard – and as Greg Barrowman had told us that John would be VERY surprised we assumed he was in the box trying to get out!

The hypnosis scene was spiced up by yet another half naked dancer massaging John’s shoulders, and then Pete came with a big white ostrich feather and tickled him with it, trying to get him to giggle and give up his pose, but even though he teased him in places unmentionable John kept his posture and so the play commenced.

At the cave – when all the bats are flying out – John had previously added a line to his usual “I feel like I’m in Twilight!” but neither I nor Iris understood him -till during intermission our American friends stopped by and told us it was GERMAN! So I asked him at the stage door and he said “yeah, I wanted to say I’m in Twilight, and kept looking at you guys but you just were: hhhh (his face one big questionmark)! Oh, great, they understand my English, but not their own German, so how do you say ‘I’m in Twilight’?” “ich bin in Twilight” – “oh, well, I was close, then…” When the scene came again, he said “Ich bin in Twilight!” and we clapped and cheered!!

But the best thing happened on the last show:
The little boy they were calling up to the stage was talking about his christmas
gifts and that he’d put cookies out for Santa. So John asks what would happen if
Santa ate everybody’s cookies – he’d get too fat to come through the chimney.
(his punchline usually being “tell your parents to open up the front door next
But then the little boy, not intimidated at all by John’s silver outfit with all
the diamonds and silver stitching, says “But he can do it – he’s magic!”; he is so cute, everybody is awwwwing. John smiles and says “Oh you’re right. I love
magical people – they sparkle, you know!”

To which the child says all earnest: “You sparkle!”
I had to bite back tears. (John was speechless for once and the audience cheered
and clapped madly!)

This child in his innocence had summed it up perfectly.
John actually sparkles, whatever he does.

And for the very last scene John came on stage alone, with a Chinese Lion’s head on – looked very smashing! And he got a standing ovation for that last show!
It was absolutely amazing – and I’ll probably need another year to recover. But then it’s Panto-time again and that is Fantastic, Fantastic, Fantastic – to borrow a Barrowman phrase!

Aladdin Panto Dec 2010

So I love Pantomime. To me it is the highest form of art, stemming from Italian Commedia dell’arte and with its use of male actors playing female characters it’s probably closest to the Shakespearean way of bringing plays onto the stage with an all male cast. That also goes for the constant interaction with the audience – preferably a rather young audience – and the extempore that is inevitably a part of this interaction. To a lesser actor this might mean losing concentration and failing miserably, but to someone seasoned enough not to be deterred by it it’s obviously just as great fun as for the audience.

That said – Aladdin is a Pantomime with John Barrowman in the lead.

And that could already be the end of the review. Because it says everything. Because this man owns the stage from the second he appears on it. He includes his co players into his antics, guides them through rough patches and is able to laugh at himself when he’s taking the brunt of their jokes every once in a while. I love his talent.

But then, that wouldn’t be a fun review, now, would it?

Therefore: the first to arrive is Bad Guy Abanazar, the wizard (Pete Gallagher, who is fabulous as always) who wants world domination (what else) and all its riches (duh) and asks the Enchantress Sherazade (the amazingly beautiful and talented Jill Armour) to help him achieve this. She points him to China (to One Long Poo) to search for the Chosen One (indeed!) to search for a lamp only he can find, which will then grant Abanazar everything he wants.

The show starts with a very cool display of all the dancers (Greg Barrowman amongst them – the next generation  in the form of a clear and strong voiced nephew coming to the fore!) with Aladdin in the middle standing on a cool red trike. At this point he’s wearing black velvet pants and a red and yellow jerkin that’s rather flashy with high red boots. “Let’s get this party started” is the first song that sets the pace of the show. It turns out that he is already searched for by the police (the Krankies, after Janette’s accident and six years of no theatre they are back for the first time and absolutely hilarious) because he dared to climb the walls of the palace and steal an apple – he also looked at the princess and fell in love with her, the latter an offense that will cost his head if he is captured. There’s fun about his american accent and his time travelling and of course – who am I? “John Barrowman” – breaking out into his trademark giggles – no, not today I’m not… – about his identity.

Then the Krankies arrive – in a space ship – joking about the Daleks running a hotel on Mars “accommodate, accommodate” – at this point everybody is shaking with fits of laughter.

Aladdin plots to talk to the princess – he fakes an accident with the Ricksha of his mother (the Dame in the play is Iain Stuart Robertson who takes on Ian McKellen’s part) and indeed – the princess sees him and falls in love with him – because he’s so gorgeous – “I wrote that part!” – as he is smiling at her to the sound of a clear bell making PING!

Unfortunately the police now arrives to arrest Aladdin – the guy with the American accent – and the Krankies are milking the scene to hoots of laughter. Janette is headbutting Aladdin – as she/he is so small she gets him right in the nuts. As she charges again, Aladdin holds her off with his arm, but she clubs him on the head. He’s unconscious and slapstick ensues as the emperor arrives to witness the beheading of the guy with the American accent.

Luckily the hit on the head has triggered Aladdins Scottish roots and he speaks deepest Glaswegian when he finally wakes up, therefore being released!

Now Abanazar has arriven in China and finds the Widow Twankey – he promises to marry her in order to gain access to her son as Aladdin is the only one able to claim the magic lamp for him.

Aladdin, trying to get rich fast (we’ve asked, begged and checked for money. work??? eeek! w is still years away on the alphabet) in order to be able to marry the princess, agrees to go with the Magician, who declares himself “you’ll never had a friend like me” in a brilliant duet with Aladdin which apparently is from Aladdin the Movie (it had bugged me for weeks till I asked the drummer where they’d taken it! – Pete and John are just so marvellous together. There is a scene in which Abanazar tries to hypnotise Aladdin into coming with him and the two men are goofily milking the scene (you’ve eaten too much, – no, I just farted – your knee is knobby – that is not my knee – that ain’t my knee either! – I tried to catch you in that position since we’ve opened – I so used to have a career once — and yes, all the innuendo is just that – innuendo!) and finally much 3D fun ensues.

The 3D action is amazing – well worth the money spent developing it. There’s a bird flying, a waterfall, rocks coming at you, then stars, creepy crawlies (well actually it’s bats – it’s very batty up here tonight) and finally a really huge ugly spider that is sparkling and swinging and suddenly flies directly at you which was the  only time I actually closed my eyes. Arachnophobic, what can I say… And then the lamp. And the Jinn. Who is hilarious!

By this time I was flushed and my make up history from all the laughing, and best friends with my neighbours who were just as crazily and loudly screaming as I was. Our inner children had already claimed us again – brilliant!

There’s also a beautiful duet with Sherazade “Believe” which is superb! And then Aladdin appears for the last part of the song – and flies up and up with the melody of the song and over the audience and back into the darkness of the stage with the last notes of the song. The house goes down in screams.

So Aladdin comes back to One Long Poo (now he wears silver velvet pants with sparkles and a brilliantly beautiful shiny silver jacket with lots of diamonds on it. He’s riding on a huuuuge silver elephant and while climbing down with the help of two of his dancers there’s loads of innuendo again. They proceed to joke about him looking like Anton DuBeke and the poor tusker being Ann Widdicomb (sp?).

And all of a sudden “Prince” Aladdin is a perfect son in law for the emperor. So they get hitched – amongst more innuendo and in a sparkly light blue fancy suit with loads of gems and silver stitching to match the princess’ wedding dress and the rest of the guests at the reception.

But all that alerts Abanazar who had abandoned Aladdin in the cave – he wants to claim the lamp. Therefore he charms the old lamp out of the princess’ hands in exchange to new lamps and then – as now he is the owner of the lamp – captures the princess with the help of the pissed off Jinn and brings her to his lair.

The widow, Aladdin, the crankies, the emperor and Sherazade run after them – another brilliant 3D adventure that leads us to a snake,  the bottom of the sea, “look out, it’s Andrew Lloyd Webber” when a huuge crocodile swallows us all, then on a magic carpet over the desert and around a large scorpio, through an Arabian tent dwelling and finally to the magician’s lair.

There Aladdin rescues his princess with the help of a sonic screwdriver – “I got that from my doctor – who? yes, that’s him!” – and the Enchantress turns the Magician into a good guy who runs off into the park for some harmless fun.

Then there’s the big finale with Aladdin wearing  a golden jacket with red applications to match the cheerfulness of the last scene! And then with a final bow and a Captain Jack salute  it’s actually over. sob.

Now the songs are amazing – Pete Gallagher in his duet with John “best friends” they are absolutely awesome! John duets with princess Jasmine (Rosa O’Reilly) that is very sweet and cute – “Rule the world” and I am melting just thinking about it! -, the Krankies have their turn with “picking on me” (Janette) and “Funny Boy” (Ian) and there’s a bit of Abba and even “I will walk 500 Miles” in Scottish that had us all singing along! love, love love love it.

The dancers raise the roof with “Yes” (I think it’s from Dirty Dancing, but am not quite sure) and there’s a fun number in Widow Twankey’s washing salon where an Aladdin Doll and four pink Gorillas make an appearance too. ( don’t ask – it’s hilarious when the Gorillas dance the CanCan and then chase the police 😉 )

Oh, and there’s a guest spot for Ozzie Osbourne and Susan Boyle too – complete with a whistle that blocks out the expletives from Ozzie and … wait for it … a pussy for SuBo (I’m so not gonna touch that; You haven’t every anyway… and the house goes down in laughter).


When I came back over christmas  I was in for a surprise – the show had changed a tiny bit – not much, mind you, just some jokes were different, some innuendos added, some deleted. The Krankies had changed their last routine a bit – now mentioning the falling of the bum at some shop (I love that shop! keeps the masses out of Sainsbury’s … that’s my favorite joke! – quoting Jimmy Krankie here)  – just enough to keep both the actors and multiple watchers on their toes and interested.

and then there are the mishaps. Now please do not take this the wrong way: I really think that the way actors handle the little things that go bump on the night is a testimony to their skills. Because something is bound to be going bump on the night (literally too – I remember a rather hilarious scene in Hamlet when on the last show all of a sudden the lights went out – power failure – and stayed out for a minute till emergency power kicked in. you could hear Hamlet giggle and then continue with his speech as if he was still in full view. it’s a rather dark play anyway… LOL)

Now I hear that one of the little girls Aladdin has up the stage to present them with the magic lamp quipped “it’s plastic!!” which had the audience and John in stitches for minutes. I myself observed a young man (maybe 4) admitting to John that “my auntie fancies you a lot”  to which John after a fit of giggles answered “I see your auntie has great taste then!” This time a little princess (who was very lively and having the time of her life while she was sitting in front of me – very cute!!) was totally shellshocked when on stage – so John fell into his scottish accent to draw her out a little.

But the best of all:

The scene where Aladdin’s supposed to rescue the princess who’s in a cage in Abanazar’s lair. There’s a rather lengthy musical scene with Abanazar until finally Jasmine is alone in her cage and frantically cries “I need a superhero!” and cries again Aladdin – and again Aladdin …. Aladdin… but who doesn’t show up is Aladdin. And Jasmin’s face gets increasingly … worried. Until he finally runs in – all in laughs “that’ll teach me you NEVER go to the loo when a song is on!” – the whole audience including Jasmine is roaring with laughter at that point. So to “unspoil” the show he says: “so let’s start this scene again” – comes in again and does it properly!

A brilliant way to deal with bump-going things on the night! And a testimony to just how John deals with mishaps…


another update from the shows on christmas day:

Christmas day started with the fact that they had – due to the cold – technical
problems with the 3D equipment and didn’t let us into the auditorium until 1.30.
At that point we weren’t even given glasses; so the show started half an hour
late (and with only one hour in between shows – not good)  –
the show proceeds with its usual antics to the duet scene between Pete and
John (never had a friend like me) and all of a sudden Aladdin tells us that
magic had already happened – and 3D works again. But we had no glasses!! so they start to give out glasses, while Pete and John on stage are starting to interact with the kids in the auditorium and bring on the tech-guy on who saved the day, till John asks “who has no glasses?”. We raise our hands like good little schoolkids and he runs down the stairs, grabs a bucket and passes out glasses himself!!
So in no time at all we were all set and the play could commence. Brilliant!
(the kiddies were offering me chocolates!!!! and the moms were offering other
things but I can’t tell!! LOL)
After that we were singing Jingle Bells and that was really brilliant, too.
So we ran out, got us some coffee and came back as there was barely 20 mins
between shows.

Second show. We get glasses, so everything works. The show starts out
brilliantly and commences in a fantastic way and John is his usual bubbly self
and gives his usual 200 percent of his energy. 3D works like a charm and the
duet between John and Pete especially is effing brilliant (no other words for
it, just effing brilliant!) . Then Jimmy Krankie is Lady Gaga and her microphone
breaks, her voice is out. within seconds, John – as if it was part of the play –
comes out in his sparkly silver suit with a mike in his hand and starts dancing
along with Janette as if it was part of the show! She can’t grab the mike as she has to have her fingers on the air-supply for her balloons. (don’t ask, it’s hilarious!!) The two were hilarious (they could leave that in and it wouldn’t seem wrong or staged! He was brilliant)
To end it we all sing Silent Night (to which I only know the German words and so
I sing them, raising a few eyebrows probably and not caring) and then “a fast
one” – Jingle Bells. And then everybody leaves and all have these huuuge smiles
on their faces.
Stage door. We wait, I get a hug from Pete Gallagher whom I really adore – such
a fab voice – who tells us that the take out food was late to boot!!
And then John comes. He immediately recognises the two disabled children who are waiting from their places in the auditorium, and takes the time to take pics
with them even though Scott is waiting and he should be on his way to a family
Julie hands out french chocs (ohhh chocs, I’ll get so fat! -snort, yeah, right – ) and I tell him what I feel – that I have never admired any actor or
entertainer as much as him – after what he did through both shows – and the man
blushes!!!! And tells us – they had barely 15 mins between shows, nothing to eat
so they order chinese take out and shovel it in in between numbers! and then
emergency nurse had to come bec. they’d added shellfish to the wonton soup and he needed an epi between two numbers!!!!!!!! and we all know he’s allergic to all
kinds shellfish/crabs/shrimps.
you wouldn’t have realised that from just watching!!! And he joked “that’s my
nephew’s son rubbing shrimp over my face as he’s my understudy!!!” LOL we were all laughing, but also dead worried and so very happy he has Scott and his family to look after him.
but why do I even tell this: I have never in all my years of theatre obsession
encountered such a brilliant pro like John. He is absolutely AMAZING!!! What he does for colleagues and the show is more than just giving 200 percent, it’s his
whole being! He honestly IS the show he is part of. I am truly in AWE of this
man’s professional attitude – he is a true role model. Very impressed, me.