Get swept away by 40 Thieves

The Chronicle reviews Ladysmith Little Theatre’s pantomime, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Spend an afternoon or evening at the Ladysmith Little Theatre this holiday season, and you’ll be swept away to Baghdad and a world of villains, heroes, adventure and romance with the fabulous pantomime Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves.

A Christmas pantomime has become an annual tradition at Ladysmith Little Theatre (LLT), and this year’s production is funny, very well done and fun for the whole family.

A pantomime is a type of musical comedy stage production designed for family entertainment. Each one is loosely based on a well-known fairy tale or nursery rhyme and uses popular songs, slapstick, double entendres and topical humour. Typically, the hero is played by a girl, while there is always a “Dame,” played by a man.

The fun thing about pantos is that they are meant to be participatory, and audience members are encouraged to sings along, shout out phrases to the performers, cheer the hero and boo the villain. Watching and hearing any children in the audience is priceless.

This year’s production of Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves is a great show, featuring excellent performances by Hailey Primrose as poor Ali Baba; Hannah Copp as Ali Baba’s fiancee Safiya; Charles Harman as Ali Baba’s brother Cassim and Inge Cathers as Sharon.

Torry Clark is hilarious in his over-the-top role as Mum Baba, while Mike Cooper is great as the evil Mustafa. Kathleen Ramsay, Ken Hiebert, Gracie Laboucan, Pamela Walker, Jamee Hubbard, Kyra Moore and Taylor May Tacon all do a great job of bringing this tale to life. The young performers — Moore, Tacon, Hubbard and Laboucan — bring a great enthusiasm to the stage that is so fun to see.

Set in Baghdad, Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves tells the story of Ali Baba, who falls in love with Safiya and must try to buy her freedom from her owners — his brother Cassim and his wife Sharon.

When poor Ali comes up with the money to buy Safiya’s freedom, she insists that she won’t leave until her younger sister Huma is also freed, so Ali sets out to find enough money to free them both.

Ali finds a secret cave filled with treasure, but, unfortunately for our young hero, that isn’t the answer to all his problems. Soon, evil Mustafa Leikh and his thieves discover that someone has been stealing from them, and they go after Ali.

It’s a great story, made even better by the jokes, music and appearance of a camel.

The sets and costumes are just beautiful, and there are a lot of well-known songs in the show, including “Love is an Open Door” from the movie Frozen, “Consider Yourself” from Oliver Twist, and a terrific re-worked version of Petula Clark’s “Downtown” with “Baghdad” lyrics.

The show seems to really appeal to people of all ages, as a full house on Sunday laughed, booed, cheered and clapped along throughout the show.

Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves premieres runs until Dec. 31. There are evening shows at 7 p.m. on Dec. 26, 29 and 30 and matinees at 1 p.m. on Dec. 27 and 28.

A special New Year’s Eve show and celebration will take place Dec. 31. The show will run from 8-10 p.m. with appies served during intermission. Cast members will join the audience following the show for a late-night meal and to help ring in the new year.

Tickets for the celebration are $40 each.

Tickets for all other shows are $15 each and are available at the Ladysmith Little Theatre Box Office at 4985 Christie Rd., by calling 250-924-0658 or online www.ladysmiththeatre.com.