Fun. A great big barrel full of fun!
That’s how I’d describe Ormiston Sudbury Academy’s production of the Disney classic Aladdin Jr. last week.
Expectations are of course high after so many years of top level entertainment from the academy, and with so many ‘new’ faces in lead roles there was of course anticipation and perhaps trepidation.
But, you know what, if you left that building without a smile on your face, then you, Sir, have a serious case of the melancholy.
Yes, things went wrong, from skipping sound tracks and caught curtains, to quite serious-sounding mishaps backstage, but the way these young actors handled the challenges they faced through no fault of their own was quite incredible, and in actual fact made it even funnier.
As the academy’s head of Performance Leo Cox said: “Aladdin is just one big pantomime, really,” and that was in no way a criticism.
Usually I pick out one star performer – something we will get to later – but for me the standout moment had to be the ‘flying carpet scene’.
The props team had cleverly used a small cherry picker-style piece of machinery to get the effect of flying through the air during the iconic ‘A Whole New World’ duet.
After Aladdin and Jasmine dismounted there was a loud ‘clunk’ from behind the curtain, followed by an even louder, “It’s okay, we’re alive” from backstage.
The audience’s laughter, and sighs of relief, were only matched when Aladdin (Harry Milsom) quickly hugged Jasmine and exclaimed “they’re alive”.
Brilliant improvisation which provided some extra sparkle to an already great production.
Milsom oozed class. His American accent (it is Disney) was seamless and you totally believed his role. He made you forget you were watching a school production.
His is yet another Ormiston name to add to the list to keep tabs on for the future.
He was ably assisted by young Matthew Bocking as the monkey Abu as Aladdin attempted to woo the beautiful young princess Jasmine (Danielle McIntrye/Amber Turner).
Milsom was great and I was equally impressed by Cameron Sawyer as Jafar and his parrot Iago (Katherine Gaukroger).
However, the show was taken to another level by Ryan Bailey-Knox as the incredibly athletic Genie.
He brought energy, humour and some very impressive gymnastic skills to the role and left the audiences in stitches with his full-on camp portrayal of the magic slave.
He certainly impressed Sudbury town councillor John Sayers, who was glowing in his review of the show.
“The Genie was hilarious, I thought it was really funny,” he told me. “From an ordinary member of the public’s point of view I thought they put on such a professional looking show with so many children so synchronised.
“They must have dedicated so much practice time,”
Indeed John is correct, it was a brilliant show and congratulations to all of the cast and crew.
Unfortunately this review isn’t long enough to name each actor, dancer and singer by name. All of you did a brilliant job and I look forward to seeing more Ormiston Sudbury Academy productions in the future.