ALI BABA and the songs of ABBA
Little Waltham Drama Group
at the Memorial Hall
Mamma Mia ! It's a panto packed with Abba hits, re-written to suit the plot of Ali Baba and the four tie thieves.
It's a gem of an idea – not always easy to judge how well it was implemented, since the lyrics were often swamped by the excellent band. What we needed was a few of those 70s hand-held microphones …
The book, by Simon Rayner Davis, was full of fun with money [fittingly] and hoary old chestnuts which kept drummer Colin Turner busy on the boom boom cues. Key to a good panto performer is confidence in the material and complicity with the audience, and it was pleasing to note that some of the most successful here were the youngsters: Hannah Walker as slave girl Morgiana, and Alex Lee as her Abba Baba ["I do, I do"]. In a large cast, space only to mention Reggie Mental Tie [Heather France], Linda Burrows as Rough Ralph, Susan Butler as [One-Eye] Maid Earlier – she had the best pseudonym, too: Duke Aaron Attention. And of course panto recidivist Richard Butler as Mustapha Tinkle.
In a series of splendid frocks, Mike Lee made a really good Rum Baba, with his gravelly Tommy Cooper tones and a good sense of timing [an immaculate pause at the end of the ghost routine]. All the costumes were excellent; the designs too – palm tree proscenium pieces and a lovely picture-book interior .
This unusual Ali Baba was directed by Jenny Broadway and Karen Wray.