After Christmas and New Year celebrations are over, it can feel like a long, cold wait until the next holiday. However, as I entered St Mary’s Hall to watch Parish Players pantomime of Ali Baba, the atmosphere was far from dreary. The hall was buzzing with chatter from the friends and family of the cast, as we all waited to enter a magical world of song, dance and jokes.

Usually, I don’t see the appeal of a pantomime, with its slapstick comedy and jeering. Yet, as I was watching Ali Baba, I couldn't help but giggle and sing along, while my foot was unconsciously tapping away to the beat. The local references made the script unique and even more humorous, whilst the audience gleefully hissed and booed when villain, Sheikh Mustafa Leikh (Paul Riches), appeared. The costumes were complete with glitter, feathers and wigs, and the set design had an authentic, homemade quality. The highlights would be the camel dance, the cream fight and when the audience were invited to sing, ‘Worm at the Bottom of the Garden.

The band was fantastic, as the music appealed to all ages and set the mood throughout the performance. The opening number was I’ve got a Feeling (Black Eyes Peas), which was soon followed by a heartfelt solo of Perfect (Ed Sheeran) sung by Ellie Brooks who played Ali Baba. The 15-year-old said that playing the lead role at a such a young age was “strangely scary and really fun” and wishes to continue acting professionally.

I was particularly struck by how well-established Parish Players are, as it is truly local group that have been performing plays and pantomimes for over sixty years. Actor, David Golder, told me that he has been with Parish Players for 55 years as his “first ever pantomime was Dick Whittington in Jan 1963”. He said that he loves being on stage as “you are acting just for them [the audience] at that precise moment in time with instant feedback”.

Director of Ali Baba and Acting Vice-Chair of Action for Children's Arts, Dr Chris Abbott, told me that this year the pantomime had a “mixture of new, and very experienced people” and he was “really pleased” with how the performance went. He said he was drawn to Ali Baba because of the “colourful costumes” and that fact that there were “lots of parts” so all the cast could get involved.

This highly entertaining performance by the Parish Players, encapsulated all the traits of a traditional pantomime whilst also making it authentic and relatable to the audience. David Golder summarised his experience, saying there was “fantastic backstage camaraderie, great fun and rewarding to do something that gives enjoyment to others.”

I will be sure to watch their next performance in May 2018, which will commemorate the end of the First World War in an evening of music and drama.

Ishana Seward, Sutton High School