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December 2011

By Matt White - Friday, December 30, 2011
(reproduced by kind permission of
the Isle of Wight County Press)

It can only mean one thing when Fiona Gwinnett sports a beard and Wayne Child shows off his wardrobe of wigs.
Yes, it’s panto season and Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society’s version of Aladdin, at Trinity Theatre, was as wacky as they come.

Set in Peking, the traditional tale came with a few twists, notably a genie styled on Austin Powers and two police officers called Kung and Foo.

Gwinnett, a winner at the CP Theatre Awards, made a welcome return to panto after 14 years, playing the evil Abanazer.
Gwinnett’s loud voice and cackle was so convincing, had I not known her, I would have thought she really was an evil wizard.
And Child simply loves the role of panto dame, this year playing Widow Twankey, Aladdin’s mum, who ran the laundrette.
Child was even more flirtatious than usual and one lucky (or unlucky) member of the audience felt it most, as the poor man had the dame on his lap giving him kisses.

The youngsters in the show — some only looked about three years old — added the cute factor and they did so well to remember their dance moves.

The set included the Cave of Wonders, Widow Twankey’s launderette and Aladdin’s palace and the costumes, particularly those of Abanazer, the dame and the emperor, played by Cowes town councillor Paul Birch, were excellent.

This was Abbie Lemon’s first crack at directing and, judging by the reaction of the audience, it was a successful debut.
Yes, some of the singing was out of tune and there was the occasional look of nerves on the faces of some of the cast members but the audience did not care.

And neither should they, because it was good panto fun from start to finish.