Aladdin: The Pantomime: A chance to be bad, very very bad
By LINDA HERRICK
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
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
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."