Familiar voice attracts chorus of boos in stage debut
WHAT'S a pantomime without the classic villain?
The murky green opening scene light of Aladdin leaves little to the imagination. Right on cue, an instant chorus of boos welcomes Abarnazar to the stage.
Attention to detail from director Sue Kearney and a fabulous set provides the platform, but it's the characters who bring the Criterion Theatre's latest production to life.
And it's Brandon Disson's portrayal of Abarnazar - no, not 'Have A Banana' - that sets the tone from the outset. Better known for playing the hottest songs from the 80s, 90s and today on Clarence Coast's FM 104.7, Aladdin is the 20-year-old's on stage debut.
"I've done the light and sound for plenty of shows in the last six years, but this is the first time I've jumped on stage," Disson said.
"I've always been a fan of Robin Williams so when I saw Aladdin was being put on I thought I'd go ahead and have some fun.
"I was a bit nervous going into the first show and the legs were definitely shaking for the first few lines."
But the audience is none the wiser, Disson right at home playing up to boos and heckles as the Aussie khaki-clad baddie in this adaptation by English writer Ben Crocker.
"As far as people booeing me, I've embraced it," he said. "As weird as it sounds, I'm trying to encourage them as much as possible to hate me.
"I originally auditioned for the genie. But the director said she's prefer me in this role. I've been able to sink my teeth into playing the bad guy, which has actually been a lot of fun."
The radio announcer has enjoyed his first foray treading the boards, with his vocal training and on-air experience proving a distinct advantage.
"Everyone is told to project their voice," he said. "I've been doing that on a day-to-day basis. I'm actually told to turn it down, opposite to everybody else."
Disson hinted this won't be the last time we him on stage. But is he in danger of being typecast as the villain?
"If that's what happens, I'll milk it for all it's worth," he laughed.
"This definitely won't be the last. Depending on what sort of plays are on in the years to come, I'll certainly keep open-minded."
Disson's not the only first timer in this fresh, young cast who successfully deliver an entertaining night out for the whole family.
Among the newcomers is Grafton High student Lily Gibson, whose livewire performance as the playfully mischievous Nobby the Panda adds energy to the show.
Connor Mitchell is no stranger to the stage, showcasing his musical talents as Aladdin and Rebecca Hall is full of voice as Widow Twankey, under the musical direction of Dan Fahey.
Meanwhile Jordan Smith and Lizzie Maher provide comic relief as their contrasting roles as the two genies.
All shows are table seating, and patrons are encouraged to BYO drinks and nibbles.
Friday, Dec 2 (7.30pm)
Saturday, Dec 3 (7.30pm)
Sunday, Dec 4 (2pm)
Tickets $20 for night shows and $15 for matinees available at Buckley's Music