Ali Baba — 16/17 & 23/24 January 2015 in Headley Village Hall

The poster. See cast detailsvideo. See photos from the 2001 production.
See Report

Someone's making an ass of the Director!

But the scenery looks good, thanks to Cavan & Loretta

At the Sunday dress rehearsal:—

The entire cast pose for the Press.

As dastardly a band of brigands as you'd care to meet!

The Sultan (Rod Sharp) exercising with his executioner (Shirley Neil).

Cassim (Jonathan Neil) finds GOLD in the secret cave.

The thieves arrive secreted in barrels – they only just fitted inside!!

At the Thursday dress rehearsal:—

The Sultan (Rod Sharp) and Executioner (Shirley Neil) wait to hear the last tale of Sheherezade (Karina Farnlucher), who seems to be eying up the Exit sign already!

In the street, after giving us "Old Bazaar in Cairo" the chorus discuss Ali and his ass.

And here he is! L to R: Delilah the donkey, Ben Baba (Thomas Edser), Ali (Martin Wellen) & Cassim (Jonathan Neil)

But money isn't everything, they say: it "Can't Buy me Love" for instance.

The 40 thieves! Rashah-al-Gammon (Nick Webb, standing in for Nigel Owens) tries to work out the maths with Isim (Thomas Hiller), Getim (Zya White), Gotim (Jess Shaw), Hadim (Katherine Wellen), Wasim (Abby Hibberd) and '34' (Rachel Spiller). He must be right: he learnt maths at Mill Chase.

…and here's the real Rasah (Nigel Owens) on the last night!

The Rock Creatures: obviously a serious business, these Dress Rehearsals!

Ali and Ben, in the secret cave, discuss how much treasure to take.

Then Barbara Baba (Penny McKay) arrives – a nest egg from Fabergé?

Loading up Delilah with dinero and doubloons…

… while the Stage Manager (Paul Heath) keeps a watchful eye on them.

The chorus are happy to accept a glass of champers, but want to know where Ali got all his money from.

… and so does Cassim!

… and so does his wife Fatima (Tina Wareham)

Meanwhile the enigmatic Morgiana acts as a cover-up agent.

Back outside the cave again, our heros are surrounded by Rock Creatures.

Eventually Cassim gets himself captured by the thieves. End of Act I.

At the beginning of Act II, the Sultan is fascinated by a cup of coffee made in the harems of the West…

…and, for no apparent reason, we are treated to an impromptu sand dance.

Morgiana to Cassim's rescue, as she unzips to reveal herself.

Ali gets an unsolicited delivery of five large oil jars.

Not quite the message we meant to give! But it was a dress rehearsal.

Anyway, the Director and Co-Director seem happy enough. Tomorrow, we get paying customers. Bring them on!

Snippets from the Last Night:—

Six shades of Hugo as Rhum Baba!

Five faces of Rashah (Nigel Owens) – lastly gathering victims for the Community Song.

And the band played on … Jo Levy (piano), Jo Smith (electric bass), Zak White (drums)


Panto Full of Eastern Promise!

For anyone looking to escape the gloom and chill of a January evening, Headley Theatre Club's latest production of Ali Baba provided the perfect antidote.
Transported to the balmy (or should that be barmy?) shores of a desert kingdom, the audience was quickly immersed in the tale of the luckless Ali Baba and his somewhat eccentric (and extended) family. Narrated by the beautiful Scheherazade (Karina Farnlucher) in a bid to stay her execution, this was panto in the true tradition with an added touch of the exotic!

In the absence of Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, who would surely have felt at home on the excellent set painted by Cavan Syrad and constructed by Pauls Heath and Wareham, Jo Smith's witty adaptation of the old tale was delivered with enthusiastic aplomb by a cast whose members ranged in age from eight to ???????.

Martin Wellen in the title role proved himself more than equal to the part, henpecked by bossy Barbara, his wife, played with obvious relish by Penny McKay and surrounded by an army of troublesome relatives, not least his money-grabbing, oil rich brother, Cassim (Jonathan Neil). Special mention must go to Tina Wareham as Cassim's wife, Fatima and Hugo Millard as his daughter, Rhum Baba. Their comic double act was a highlight of the show.

Thomas Edser as Ben Baba, Ali's son also showed a real aptitude for comic timing and a pleasant singing voice. Together with Rachel Spiller as a feisty and resourceful slave girl, Morgiana, they made an engaging couple.

Every panto needs a four-legged friend. In this production the part was taken by Ali's very exuberant and vocal donkey, Delilah who did not confine her antics to the stage but took every opportunity to mingle with the audience, much to the delight of the younger (and in some cases, slightly more mature!) spectators! Ellie Bradford and Mavis Standing must be congratulated on a stellar performance!

Pantomime villains come in many guises but with Nigel Owens as Rashah al Gammon, the Robber Chief, there was no mistaking that here was a force to be reckoned with! His rapport with the audience was immediate, eliciting much booing, hissing and some unscripted moments of ad lib that threatened to 'bring the house down'! With his band of forty thieves reduced to five (Headley's stage is, after all, somewhat compact!) he was finally given his 'comeuppance' in true panto style!

With a musical score directed by Jo Levy featuring many familiar tunes and the opportunity for a fair amount of audience participation, this was a production designed to appeal to all ages. It succeeded on all fronts, sending Headley Theatre Club's many followers home happy and having surely acquired many new fans along the way.

Report on first weekend, written by Alison Head

Return to Headley Theatre Club home page