Sports and Social Club’s Panto plays to another full house.
Another full house at Bata Cinema, last night, for the second performance of the pantomime “Aladdin and his wonderful lamp,” was, if anything, even more enthusiastic than the polity first night audience, which forgot to be polite and roared enthusiastically at the humorous incidents. Now comes the news that public demand for tickets has outstripped the capacity of the theatre and a third performance is to be stage, on Thursday, February 4, and already more than half “the house” is sold.
In response to requests from workers in leather and rubber factory, this third performance is to be speeded up to allow people to catch convenient trains home and, should there be sufficient demand, special coaches will also be arranged.
The dramatic section of Bata Sports and Social Club is proud of the fact that this pantomime has broken all the “house” records for Bata Cinema. Chairman Eric Vassie told Bata Record that not only had it broken all records for the house but all tickets for last night’s performance were sold in less than 24 hours and public demand made a third performance necessary.
“Hardly had the third performance been arranged than the requests for these tickets began to pour in and that house is half sold. I hope to see an equally full house next Thursday,” he added, “not because of the money - although we can do with that in the section - but because the show goes better and the members of the cast feel they are really doing a worthwhile job in their spare time.”
Last night’s performance was, if anything, and improvement on the first night. Heartened by the wonderful reception their efforts received the previous week, the cast had lost all trace of first night nerves and were at once at home with their audience and never lost touch all through the show.
Except for the noise, shouting and singing, which usually open a pantomime, “Aladdin,” at Bata cinema follows, more or less, traditional lines but some topical cracks and lines have been added, to the delight of the audience.
Although the stage is small and there is obvious difficulty at times in getting the large dancing troupes on and off every effort is made to avoid a crowded effect, until the finale. A transformation scene is not possible in the space available but producer Derrick Bannock, who is only seen for about 10 seconds during the actual show, has done an excellent job in grouping his cast so that all can be seen.
Again last night, it was Jimmy Gilligan as Widow Twankey who put the final polish on the performance and held things together - but he was ably abetted by the other principals, Abanazar - Louis Gladwell and Princess So-Shi - Veronica Allott, who had heavy singing and acting parts. Aladdin - Laura Lewis, who was less nervous last night and gave an improved performance as a result.
Other characters are taken as follows:- Grand Vizier, Ken Jaggard; Sunshine, Hilda Vassie; Wishie Washie, Brian Smith; Emperor of China, Bernard Malthouse; Scrubby, Queenie Cartledge; Girl, Margaret Smith; Boy, David Smith; Genie, Allan Hall, Customer, June Partridge; Guards, Rodney Hobbs and Graham Vassie.
Once again the popular numbers by Elizabeth Pech, on her piano accordian, and the clever marionette show by Bob Davis brought their due mead of applause as did the dances arranged by Eileen Fowler and her Keep Fit girls. The babes appeared in the opening number to dance “A Chinese Holiday,” with some of the older girls. The juniors were featured in “Little Miss Gretchen,” in which Deidre Lawrence did well as one of the soloists.
The Jewell Ballet, Moon Flower Waltz and Parisienne Tap were more sophisticated numbers for the teenagers.
Design for the scenery was carried out by Derrick Bannock and the construction was done by H.J.Bannock and E.H. Nichols, while Eric Vassie and Tom Lewis took charge of the stage lighting.
But one of the most important behind the scenes jobs was the making of the costumes, designed by Lyn Russell, who also acted as wardrobe mistress.
This task was undertaken by Mrs W Hobbs and Mrs S Little, who spent many long hours sewing the costumes and the last ones were not finished until a few minutes before they were wanted.
Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp - 1954.
Click on the link below to read the Pantomime Personality Profile published in the Bata Record in the weeks running up to this production.