This year’s Broch Panto was Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp and, as ever, it was performed by the Fraserburgh Junior Arts Society (FJAS).
The show ran at the Dalrymple Hall and Arts Centre from Monday 15 to Saturday 20 December, and there were two performances per day.
I headed along to the first performance of the night on Tuesday, December 16 and I was lucky to even get a ticket as demand for them was so high!
Upon my arrival to the hall, the phone was ringing with people looking for last minute tickets.
As I took to my seat I noticed that the hall was packed with both residents and local groups who were eagerly awaiting the start of the show.
FJAS President John Gibson explained in the show programme that the story of Aladdin came from the book ‘Arabian Night’ which is a collection of stories from the Far East, so it was no surprise to see the Chinese themed sets and characters throughout the evening.
The lights dimmed and a silence filled the hall, and that is when we met panto baddie Abanazar, played by Craig Roger.
The stage was all-black and fog was used to help create a mysterious effect.
Craig played the part of Abanazar brilliantly throughout the show, so much so he became the baddie you loved to hate.
The audience booed every time he appeared on stage and Craig lapped it up, clearly loving the reaction from everyone and he played on this by blowing a kiss to the crowd at one point!
He also adopted a catchphrase for the night: “Don’t you just love me?”, although the audience were loud and clear when they shouted back “No!”.
After Abanazar threatened to ban treats and sweets, the curtains pulled back to reveal a bright set and the stage was filled with the chorus group who set the evening off with a performance of the eighties classic “Just Can’t Get Enough”.
The group sounded great and were loud and clear for everyone to hear.
After the song finished we were introduced to clumsy police constables Ping and Pong, played by Rachael McRae and Anna Nicol.
We also met panto dame Widow Twanky and her sons Wishy Washy and Aladdin.
The main role was played by Sophie Gault - the perfect choice as she had the audience on her side throughout and everyone was rooting for Aladdin to win the Princess’ heart.
Bill Paterson took on the role of Widow Twanky and he ensured the audience laughed their way through the show with the odd joke and pun that the older audience members appreciated more than the youngsters.
Widow Twanky’s bright costumes also brought laughter to the room, and she even remarked that the Herald would write a feature on them!
Sean Johnston played Wishee Washy with great enthusiasm and it was clear that he loved every minute of it.
Wishee Washee interacted with the crowd a lot which made everyone feel like they were part of the show despite not being on stage.
The following scene introduced us to the Emperor of China and his daughter, Princess So-Shi.
Martin Stephen shuffled around the stage and spoke in a fake Chinese accent to bring the Emperor to life while Emily Cartney was dressed in beautiful traditional Chinese clothes, quite fitting for a Princess!
Both Sophie and Emily took turns to sing solo and they performed together well too.
In the final scene before the break, Aladdin summoned the Genie of the Lamp, played by Nicola Henderson.
The stage crew used pyrotechnics every time the Genie appeared, which initially came as a shock to everyone.
However the biggest shock came in the form of a scene set at Widow Twanky’s Laundrette that involved Wishee Washee getting stuck in a machine.
With a warning that the machine was about the explode, it did just that and a loud bang filled the room - something that had the audience talking for a while afterwards.
One moment that really stood out was when the stage was completely darkened and neon items were moved around to give the effect that they were moving on their own - everyone (including me) found that very impressive and applauded when it was over.
The show ended with Widow Twanky and Wishee Washee getting the audience to sing Jingle Bells and then the chorus came back with a medley of McFly songs All About You, Star Girl and 5 Colours in Her Hair.
Everyone involved with the panto should be extremely proud of themselves for putting on a very entertaining show, although the pressure is on to ensure next year’s performance is even better!