PUBLISHED: 10:46 10 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:49 10 January 2018
James Finbow as Aladdin and Maddie Carpenter as Abu the Monkey in the Orchard Players’ annual pantomime. Photo: Contributed
The Orchard Players invite you on a magical carpet ride to Peking market where street rat Aladdin’s plans to woo Princess Jasmine are interrupted by the evil Abanazer.
Directed by Rob Maplestone, with help from sister Lucy Maplestone–Singh, the traditional tale features all the usual loveable characters including Widow Twanky, Wishee Washee, the Genie, the Slave of the Ring and more.
“We’ve got a comedy duo called Hi and Lo which are Abanazer’s sidekicks. The princess has a handmaiden and we’ve added lot of extra parts to accommodate the amount of people here,” says Rob.
“The Slave of the Ring has a couple of apprentices… we try to encourage the youth of the group, give them more opportunities,” adds Lucy.
“They might not necessarily always want a big solo part, but by being in a pair or a trio it gives them that boost to take it a little bit further. Next time they might. Since we first started directing pantomimes it’s always been about encouraging the younger generation to come through.”
Rob and Lucy have grown up with the Orchard Players, starting when they were eight-years-old. Like many former members, they’ve returned multiple times over the years. Aladdin is the eighth or ninth pantomime they’ve co-directed.
“For us, as brother and sister, we were always doing shows at our mum and dad’s house weren’t we, putting on shows when we were five. I think that’s always something we get excited about… taking ourselves and others to a world of make believe. It’s not really ever a daunting experience, it’s always going to be good fun,” says Lucy.
There’s the old stage cliché of never work with children or animals. You could add siblings to that list.
The duo never fought when they were kids. The same holds true now.
“We’ve always been close. We just look at each other during production and go mmm… I can delegate more,” laughs Rob.
“It definitely lightens the load, sharing it, bouncing ideas off each other,” says Lucy, who adds rehearsals have flown by.
Things were running pretty smoothly when I dropped by the other week. The sets, props and costumes were coming along nicely. Having staged several full run-throughs already, they were just adding some finishing touches to the musical numbers.
Rob’s developed a technique over the last five shows where he runs it straight away so cast get to know the script really well.
“I let them improvise without me interfering. I just run the whole script from A to Z for about a month Z, they do what they like, learn their lines, come on where they like, stand where they like, move where they like and it seems to knock all the gremlins out. Then we start blocking it.”
The more polished it becomes; the easier it is to tweak bits here and there.
Rob and Lucy – neither of whom is in this year’s show – are proud of the cast they’ve assembled.
The 36-strong cast, aged eight and up, will perform hits like I Will Survive All Of Me and the Disney classic A Whole New World.
Lucy says: “It’s a fun, entertaining night out for all the family. It’s got comedy, love, songs, dancing. We’re a small group and we run on small budget, what we get out of that is fantastic.”
“And I think people need to come to see our amazing washing machine,” smiles Rob.
You’ll have to buy tickets to find out more about that.
The show runs at Capel St Mary Village Hall, January 11-13, 7.30pm; with a 2pm matinee Saturday. Tickets are adults £8, concessions and children £6. Call the box office on 07933 292175.
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