The annual pantomime (as seen by the newsletter editor)
“Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, performed by the Old Buckenham Players on Thursday 15, Friday 16 and Saturday 17 January was another village panto in the finest tradition of village pantos. It had all the typical characters that you would expect, the script contained the requisite amount of corny jokes and also actors who were determined to enjoy themselves. The first night audience were obviously an experienced lot who joined in with all the “It’s behind you” and “Oh, yes it is” with very little prompting from the cast.
Set in Bagdad and having the odd camel on the cast list, it had some connections with the Ali Baba story that I seem to remember. Ali Baba himself, entertainingly played by Matt Butcher, soon had the audience on his side while Tom Key as Kasim Baba (or the dastardly El Scorpio in his alter ego) could be guaranteed to be greeted by boos every time that he appeared on stage.
The dame Fatima Kebab, a real ‘Dame Edna’ character, gave Chris Langton the chance to milk plenty of food jokes. Laura Gipp had the principal boy part of Rhum Baba and enjoyed her pursuit of Polly Jones (played by Georgina Key) and after many adventures everything turned out well in the end.
Polly’s father (Chris Morter) got turned into a camel, the mysterious Crystal (Jenny Harrison) seemed to get all her predictions right, the two belly dancers wiggled through their parts, El Scorpio’s henchmen (two of the forty thieves) got most things wrong and Olive Baba (Lisa Chenery) had both good and bad fortune befall her as the story progressed.
There were the members of the adult chorus and the children’s chorus to do some dancing and a well-bandaged Mummy made a few appearances too. One thing that was missing was thirty-eight of the forty thieves but the stage at Old Buckenham is not really that big.
The scenery, music, costumes, sound, lighting and props were all of the usual high standard. Going to the first night meant that not everything went as planned (but the ad libs were of the highest panto standard) and the prompt had a bit more to do than they would like. By the time the finale came, everyone seemed to realise that the show had gone well and relaxed, singing their way through a reprise of the songs with obvious enjoyment. And the audience went home in a cheerful mood having been well entertained all evening.