Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
IN PANTO world anything can happen and in Burneside Amateur Theatrical Society's production of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, it certainly did, from a Darth Vader inspired baddie to a broad Yorkshire dame and one of the new guys getting stitched up, writes JOHN DODDS.
As always the enthusiastic BATS group entertained with a colourful, fun and music filled show. The audience transported to old Baghdad where Ali Baba, confidently portrayed by Tracey Howson, came across stolen treasure to help her free her true love Safiya (Elisha Selby seemingly at ease in her first major role) from the shackles of the evil, scheming Sharon (Helen Townson).
Of course there was a baddie to boo... Mustapha Leek, wittily portrayed by Adam Carruthers, with many an ad lib to amuse the audience even if it did create a mishap or two and the timing of one song in particular, all of which added to the sense of mirth in the hall. He came on stage to Vader's theme in helmet and cloak and this wasn't the only nod to the saga, with R2D2 and Princess Leia making timely appearances in the beautifully created scenery. Mustapha was far from ably assisted by Yessah (Martin Cash) and Nossah (Ron Milnes), his two bumbling henchmen with plenty of audience laughter at their lack of ability to execute their orders or colleagues among an ever reducing number of thieves.
Queen of the show, with an alluring array of costumes was the dame, Kevin Beecroft, providing the Yorkshire influence, various quick fire gags and the gruffest of female 'voices.'
The show was a little slow in parts, but moved well between storyline and musical numbers, both old and new songs mixed in nicely to keep all ages involved, with the children's numbers a rousing success as they showed off their dancing skills.
It was encouraging to see several new faces on stage and it would be wrong to ignore the excellent Wayne Bartholomew in the role of Cassim, who was cut up by the baddies and left to Rest In Pieces! Fortunately, he was stitched together by Fab Rick, Sue Gilchrist in an impressive cameo role and left smiling and singing his way to the finale.