Aladdin: Review Roundup

Ed Swidey

The world premiere of Aladdin: A Musical Panto, the ninth annual holiday panto at People’s Light and Theatre Company in Malvern, Pa., has opened to positive reviews. The creative team includes Samantha Bellomo (book, choreography), Pete Pryor (book, direction), Michael Ogborn (lyrics, music), James F. Pyne (sets), Rosemarie E. McKelvey (costumes), J. Dominic Chacon (lights), Mike Hahn (sound), Ryan Touhey (music direction), and Jorge Cousineau (video). The cast includes Justin Jain (Aladdin), Mark Lazar (Widow Twankey), Meera Mohan (Mai Tai), Kim Carson (Sultan), Ed Swidey (Fu), Brad DePlanche (Manny the Monkey), Andrew Kane (Morris the Mantis), Mal Whyte (Genius of the Ring), Larry Malvern (Genius of the Lamp), and Susan McKey (Nurse) with Karen Peakes, Conrad Sager and Antoine McClary.

Debra Miller (Stage Magazine): People’s Light & Theatre Company continues its signature holiday tradition this year with … one of the company’s best Pantos yet! … In keeping with English tradition, Bellomo and Pryor combine elements from the familiar children’s story with … enough adult allusions to keep the grown-ups every bit as interested and amused as the kids. Directed by Pryor and choreographed by Bellomo, Aladdin’s charming cast conjures a world of enchantment, danger, fun, and romance. … Mark Lazar assumes the role of the outrageously buxom dame and does a hilarious job. … Ed Swidey is superb as the dastardly Fu. … Swidey proves once again that he numbers among Philadelphia’s finest, and most versatile, talents.

Wendy Rosenfield (Philadelphia Inquirer): In the pantheon of People’s Light and Theatre pantos, Cinderella, the company’s 2009 Barrymore Awards-sweeping vaudevillian adaptation, stands as a Jupiter of the form. … So, let’s call this year’s Aladdin their Juno. Coming in a close second … Aladdin again pairs composer-lyricist Michael Ogborn with director Peter Pryor. … This winning production team also includes returning videographer Jorge Cousineau, with a hilarious tribute to silent film melodrama. … While it’s great to see old favorites return … this year’s newcomers bring the story’s real magic. … [Ed Swidey] conducts the audience response like a maestro. … The excitement on this stage beats a sugar rush any day.

Margie Royal (Delco News): Pryor and Bellomo’s Aladddin favors dance, frenzy and constant movement. It’s amped up and active and thus will appeal even more to younger audience members who won’t miss plot points so much. … Choreographed movements, dances and chases are big in this production. Original numbers written for the show are sung and supported with some nifty choreography. And these actors can really sing! … The stellar cast pulls it all off in winning fashion. … Ed Swidey is terrific in the role of the bad guy, Fu, and seems to be thoroughly enjoying the chorus of boos he gets from the audience. Aladdin: A Musical Panto is light entertainment performed with high artistry and polish by some of the area’s finest actors.

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