Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings


Birmingham Youth Theatre

The Old Rep Theatre


Birmingham Youth Theatre start this year’s panto season with an enthusiastic performance of Aladdin.

Opening with a prologue and audience warm up involving some booing and hissing practice, the first audience titter comes as the musical director Chris Corcoran raises an umbrella to protect himself from the ‘hissing fallout’.

The second giggle comes from the carefully delivered line ‘Do a nice long hiss now so you won’t have to do another one until the interval!’

With lovely backdrops, minimal set and simple props the opening number Best Day of My Life is vibrant and colourful, with lots of smiling faces and enthusiastic dancing on display.

Costumes are nice; however it would be more in keeping with the ancient Peking setting, if everyone wore jazz shoes or pumps rather than the random character shoes that some of the chorus were wearing.

On a similar theme, rather than girls wearing two plaits in their hair a single plait would be much more authentic to the traditional Chinese Pigtail, and certainly more believable with girls playing male roles.

Playing Aladdin, Zak Hayes displays his vocal talent with a lovely rendition of Marry You the first of his many well performed numbers.

Other well tuned singing voices of note came from Phoebe Shepherd as Jasmine, Sydney Pope as the Emperor and Anna Simpson as Wishee Washee. Simpson certainly captures the spirit of panto with her keen and energetic performance.

Songs are well chosen and performed competently by cast and chorus. A credit to the M.D. Love is an Open Door and All of Me were particularly worthy of note and beautifully preformed.


The production follows all the traditional panto rules, references to local areas, ‘it’s behind you’ and ‘oh no you won’t’ sketches, audience sing along and numerous one liners – ‘special offer at laundry this week on underwear, knickers are down!’

Perhaps because of opening night jitters, some hesitation in delivery and some gabbling and racing through lines was noticeable at times but as the performers nerves disappear and confidence builds there is promise of a lot laughs for the audiences during the rest of the run.

The Slave of the Ring, was played wonderfully by Maddison Clarke who is a very capable all rounder.  Her performance, acting, dancing and singing were standout and without fault.

Good performances too from the rapping Genie of the Lamp played by Toby Nelson and Jasmine’s hand maiden Notsoshy played by Holly Nelson.

There are perhaps some missed directorial opportunities which could have resulted in a a slicker more rounded production. The overloaded washing machine scene falls a little flat when there is no visible explosion (despite the dialogue that suggests it).

 A bubble machine, a flash of light and use of the smoke machine would easily remedy this and add to the laughs and slapstick comedy expected in any panto.  The absence of a ‘magic carpet, which again could have been done with light effects and simple choreography, was somewhat disappointing.

Overall, the youngsters show enthusiasm and potential as they showcase their talents and it is evident that they thoroughly enjoy themselves on stage. Generally, a successful production that will lift your spirits and kickstart the festive panto season. Oh yes it will! To 11-11-17

Rosemary Manjunath and Elizabeth Smith


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