Twisted: The Untold Story

‘Twisted: The Untold Story Of A Royal Vizier’ is an ADULT musical pantomime based on the bawdy book by Matt Lang, Nick Lang, and Eric Kahn Gale. The score is by A. J. Holmes, with uncensored lyrics by Kaley McMahon.

The musical parodies the 1992 Walt Disney film ‘Aladdin’, but tells the alternate perspective of Aladdin, as seen by Ja’far, the Royal Vizier. It has several references and digs at other famous musicals. StarKid Productions took up the script option and brought its zany and daring approach to an old standard.

The Darlington Theatre Company is presenting this show at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road on Greenmount. The whole of this two-week run was practically sold out in advance. You could still be lucky enough to find the odd ticket.

The 150-minute performance is running from 9th July until 24th July. The curtain rises at 7.30 pm.

The scene:           The Middle East around 1500 AD.

The set:                Superbly designed and constructed by Owen Davis. The overall appearance is of a town marketplace, with two storey buildings surrounding it. The buildings are cream and pink, with pale blue colonnades. The windows and arches are of ancient Gothic ogee style. The rear wall has an upstairs flat with a balcony; at the rear of this room are the show’s musicians.

The sides of the square have collapsible shops, well devised, and quickly converted. The village fountain, complete with illuminated flowing ‘water’, is wheeled in for various scenes. There is a hilarious flying carpet, and a 2-metre-high, cross section of the magic lamp along with a huge sultan’s throne.

Set construction:              Shelly Miller, Luke Miller, Arianah Davis, Nicholas Boland, Scott Chappel, Jordan Woodhams, Owen Collins. A vast amount of work, but it was realistic and the effects worked perfectly.

Lighting design and operation:   Complex running order and lighting effects, but the result matched the mood of the show wonderfully. Congrats to Shelly Miller.

Follow spot:        Tegan Legget, Jade Gurney and Kirby Jones worked flawlessly.

Sound technician:            Quality soundscape and headsets controlled by Guy Jackson without a single miscue.

Properties:          Evelyn Grummet has had to gather various foods, antique relics and armoury. Impeccably sourced.

Stage manager: Belinda Beatty was assisted by Locklen Falkingham, along with actors Caitlyn Argyle and Rebecca McRae.

The lights dim and Scheherazade (Alyssa Burton) welcomes us to the kingdom. A Pik-zahr desk lamp (Emily Bebbington) waddles onto the stage and begins to destroy the ‘Twisted’ sign. The curtain opens Ja’far (Mathew Leak) the Royal Vizier, walks across the kingdom’s square listening to the villagers’ complaints about their poverty. The Captain of the Guard (Luke Miller) arrives and warns everyone of a lazy thief and molester in town – Aladdin (Joshua Towns).

The arrogant Prince Achmed (Candice Preston) is visiting Ja’far and hopes to extend trade between their kingdoms, however,  in town Aladdin had humiliated the Prince earlier that day. At the palace, the Prince is having breakfast with the highly principled, but spoiled sixteen years old Princess (Lukas Perez), but the Princess dislikes him so sets her pet tiger onto him. Prince Achmed immediately declares war on the Magic Kingdom.

To avoid war, Ja’far tries to gather his assistant viziers, only to discover most members have been killed by the childish, bumbling and irrational Sultan (Connor Matthiessen). Ja’far finds a golden necklace and in a flashback, remembers teaching the villagers how to be kind to one another.  On his first day the new Assistant Royal Vizier, Ja’far, discovers that the Royal Vizier and his court are corrupt.

Scheherazade, a storyteller and palace entertainer, has just had her ear cut off by one of her masters. As Ja’far stitches the wound, Scheherazade tells him of the Tiger Head Cave, explaining when her half of a golden scarab necklace is combined with the other half, it will reveal the location of the hidden Tiger Head Treasure Cave. Even though Ja’far is a man of facts and science, he is charmed by Scheherazade’s wisdom and beauty; and still accepts regular advice from his monkey (Clara Lee) and parrot (Jessica Wilkins). When Scar the Lion (Chris McRae) and Captain Hook (Ebony Uetake) arrive, Ja’far’s advice becomes more confused.

Can Ja’far and the Princess save the day?

Musical Directors:            Christopher Steicke and Jen Gadeke have created a sensitive balance in the instruments.

The singers were all very well-rehearsed and sang with melodic gusto. Then, with tremendous humour and audience appreciation, it is the first time I have seen a conductor abuse a cast member – Tiger ******.

The knowledgeable accompaniment comprises Reed: Talitha Dunn, Tara Oorjitham. Violin: Kristy Hughes. Cello: Kiara Burke. Guitar: Erin Steicke, Keiran Ridgway. Keyboard: Jo Keenan, Jay Anderson. Percussion: Zac Skelton, Caleigh Rhee, Dean Murray, Lauren Jolliffe.

Director, Brittany Isaia is well respected and admired, so choosing a top rate cast and behind the scenes helpers must have been easier. The demands made on everyone was punishing, as can be seen by the quality of the set, lighting, décor etc. The cast were particularly talented, their warmth and enjoyment of bringing entertainment to the audience shone through.

Costumes’ supervisor and advisor Marjorie DeCaux has ranged from the sailors’ black outfits to the immaculately finished, ladies Moroccan silk harem gypsy pants and the balgha shoes. The seamstresses Yvonne Miller, Shelly Miller, Lukas Perez, Brittany Isaia, Stella Sawyer, Lorna Woodley, Trish Maughan, Emily Bebbington, Candice Preston, Christopher Steicke, Tracy Vonk, Veronica Hudson, Owen Davis, Rachel Vonk and Amanda Moloney must have put in many hours creating the numerous costume changes.

The whole cast were magnificent, amazing teamwork. The director was faced with finding enchanting singers, who could dance and have an outstanding dry delivery of the excellent, unique and humorous script. The leads had amazingly clear voices with crisp delivery of the lyrics; special mention to Scheherazade (Alyssa Burton), the lecherous conman, Aladdin (Josh Towns), the beautiful saver of the planet, Princess (Lukas Perez) and assistant Vizier, Ja’far (Mathew Leak).

For dancing the choreographer, Arianah Davis, has given us a soft-shoe shuffle – tongue in cheek – fun filled dance routines. The humour carried throughout the show with even minor parts being delivered with pizzazz.

The main characters, the mooning Achmed (Candice Preston), buck passing bodyguard (Luke Miller), the highly improper Sultan (Connor Matthiessen, also as the Avatar Djinn), Aladdin and the Princess had top rate comedic delivery and style. Terrific. With a personal appearance from Cruella de Vil (Jessica Wilkins) and talented younger members of the cast like Verity Lux (Gaston), the future of community theatre is assured.

A superbly directed show, with excellent pace and one of the best (but non-invasive) audience bonding that I have seen in some time. This very much an adult show with a broadminded script that still made a few jaws drop at the comments. There were people of all ages in the audience and yet no one seemed offended or uneasy. In the interval there were smiles all around with a few shakes of the head and ‘I can’t believe they said that!’ comments followed by yet more smiles. Highly recommended. Most professional production.