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The Florians' Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves will steal your heart away


By Margaret Chrystall


REVIEW

Florians: Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves

Inverness

*****

IN warning the audience to turn off mobiles at the start of panto Ali Baba the Storyteller Scheherazade (Aileen Barr) was possibly right, you might not get a good mobile signal in Old Baghdad. But the place is certainly packed with panto goodies and Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves will steal your heart away.

Sharon, Cassim, Mama Baba, Huma (Heather-Jane Davidson), Sofiya, Ali Baba.
Sharon, Cassim, Mama Baba, Huma (Heather-Jane Davidson), Sofiya, Ali Baba.

It’s also a fairytale ending for the Florians who had to postpone the show last year, as they told us in song as the show opened to the tune of Mamma Mia: We had written a show to perform last year, but it was a no-go and we shed a tear!’

But yes, it was worth the wait.

New names and faces are onstage and behind the scenes this year, so it feels like a new era of faces and families stepping up. And under director Ria Devey they seem to have fully mastered the art of presenting a fun-packed panto that zips along with good times. It may not be as packed so full with ingenious wit and local references as previous productions in the first half (oh no it isn't).

Mama Baba (Jason Hasson) and Sharon Baba (Fiona McDonald). Pictures: Karen Taylor
Mama Baba (Jason Hasson) and Sharon Baba (Fiona McDonald). Pictures: Karen Taylor

But it blossoms in the second half with elements such as Loonah, Moonah and Noonah (Ian Shearer, Jimmy McNaughton and Carla Kelly). Their humour complements the comedy of Ali Baba's brother Cassim (Darren McMillan) and daft dame, Mum Baba (Jason Hasson), camel Camille (Liam and Ben Hasson)and double act Yessah and Nossah (Bian Howlett and Euan Macdonald/Aimee Ironside) who all got the laughter started in the first half.

The jokes are deliciously terrible – such as Mama Baba (playing piano): "Did I tell you I’d fish for supper? That’s why I’m playing the scales."

The dance numbers choreographed by Fiona McDonald – who plays money-obsessed baddie Sharon with evil energy – are move-perfect. When she is told by Ali Baba that her husband Cassim has apparently been killed, Sharon is a greed-obsessed villain for our times with only one thing in mind: "But did you get the treasure?"

Good music choices saw a lovely love duet from Ali Baba (Lisa Senior) and Sofiya (Kayleigh MacAskill), Money, Money, Money and a feelgood finisher digging out a Kool And The Gang classic.

And favourite scenes include the show’s ladies in pink silk PJs singing Man! I Feel Like A Woman!; Fab Rick (Ian Shearer) sewing up Cassim; and robber leader Mustafa Leikh (a dastardly David Saunders) and his ever-shrinking band of robbers searching the crowd for treasure.

Daeeen McMillan as Cassim and David SAunders as Sheikh Mustafa Leikh in Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves.
Daeeen McMillan as Cassim and David SAunders as Sheikh Mustafa Leikh in Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves.

By the time the glamorous mass engagement party ends the show, your magic words to anyone would be 'Go see it!'

Only trouble, it’s nearly sold out and probably all the treasure in Ali Baba’s stash might not be enough to secure you a ticket to this Old Baghdad spectacular – try tho'!



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