Home > Recent Projects > Aladdin > NZ Herald Preview



New Zealand Herald, 20 September 2003


Aladdin: The Pantomime: A chance to be bad, very very bad


Michael Hurst is on his back, waving his legs in the air and pretending he's synchronised-swimming. The trouble is, he's not very synchronised and his long skirt has fallen, revealing his lily-white legs and black undies. Worse is to come. Moments later, Hurst is struggling with domes and hooks so he can get out of his enormous brassiere. Never mind Madonna and her pointy-bra period. Here we have the magnificent Widow Twankey in all her size 48D glory. It is not a pretty sight.

It's all in the name of art, of course, or at least, Aladdin: The Pantomime. Hurst is not only playing the Widow Twankey, mum of Aladdin, he's also directing the first production of the classic panto to be staged in Auckland for nearly a decade. Back then, Aladdin's cast included Hurst and comedians Willy de Wit and Alison Wall. They are back for this show, as Bevan the Genie and Uncle Abenazar, along with Anna Hewlett as young Aladdin. Sugar & Spice (Jason Hoyte and John Brough) play Omar the Sheriff and Wishee-Washee, Jason Smith is Yehudi and Anna Meech is Princess Sharon.

It's the first time Wit has been on stage since Aladdin circa 1994, having long been diverted from a stand-up comedy career into radio jockdom on Hauraki. No coincidence then that Bevan, as he explains, has always wanted to do stand-up "and tries to sneak it in every time Twankey turns her back on stage".

While he's proud of his costume--big pants, big genie hat, waist coat--Wall is less kind. "He looks just like an onion."

Wall, back from Melbourne where she has completed a directing degree, is a vocal chameleon, a skill she caricatures in Aladdin.

"My character is very Victorian," she booms, stretching every syllable to breaking point.

"Very arch, and bad act-or in the emoting sense. It's terrific fun for an actor because you can indulge in any kind of bad acting you like."

Every ridiculous panto cliche you can think of is in this Aladdin: chases--including around the theatre and up and down the aisles, musical bits, boom-boom jokes, puns, dragons, that synchronised swimming, malapropisms like "I resemble that remark."

And then there is the prospect of Hurst sporting those vast boobs. Wall and Wit cackle at that. "Michael has just been working out a lot at the gym," says Wall.

"No, it's steroids," argues Wit. "Let's be honest here. Apparently he takes the costume home at night."

 Aladdin Metro Magazine preview article on Aladdin NZ Herald review of Aladdin/

Home  Recent Projects Future Projects