By Sophie Revell
Act One has spoiled us this year with a wide variety of performances, and this May they returned to Pulse Nightclub for their take on Twisted the Musical, produced by Euan Prout and directed by Sian Howells. Twisted was created by the ‘fun’ and ‘fantastical’ StarKid Productions, an American theatre company and brainpower behind a variety of comedies and parody musicals including Firebringer and The Trial to Oregan.
It transforms the well-known story of Aladdin, this time giving a voice to the ‘evil’ Jafar and incorporating an ensemble of other villains from the Disney universe like you’ve never seen them before. The misunderstood Jafar, a Royal Vizier, must embark on a quest to save his city from the hapless sultan (Zac Brown), the egotistical Prince Achmed (Kirsty Richards) and scheming Aladdin (Maisy Sinclair) all while resisting the temptation from the likes of Scar (Anesha Hamood), Gaston (Jacob Matthews), and Ursula (Mimi Brown) to resign to his fate as another bad guy. Act One’s rendition was side-splitting chaos that kept audiences entertained and captivated from start to finish.
First and foremost, what would a musical be without its cast? Sam Gavin-Pitt stunned audiences as Jafar, with a voice I would never get bored of listening to; blending moments of sensitivity with enough gusto and pace to lead the cast. By his side, Matilda Hawken took to the stage as naturally as breathing, capturing the audience’s attention with her voice and her grace as Sherezade.
Maisy Sinclair and the ever-wonderful Safia Bartley were an unforgettable pair as Aladdin, a thieving womaniser, and the Princess, who was dripping with sass. Bartley’s performance of ‘Everything and More’ was a highlight of the show. Kirsty Richards shone as Prince Ahmed and handled the unexpected (?) audience participation like a true pro.
The main cast was supported by a strong ensemble that skillfully multi-rolled throughout.
Another highlight of Twisted was the live band, led by the very talented Jess Wray and Adam Evans as Musical Directors. Though sometimes too loud that the lyrics were lost, they mastered the large and varied score with the same level of talent and professionalism as West End musicians, especially Newman Tai and Sophie Bull on keys and Rebecca Jolliffe and Tom Shaw from the wind section.
Of the production elements, I was skeptical of the small stage but the cast traversed it impressively, no doubt a reflection of Howells’s direction. Costume and makeup by Dominic Bramley-Carr and Bryony Wilcock reflected modern-day styles as well as easily distinguishing the characters we know and love from the Disney universe.
Overall, Act One delivered a hilarious performance, with everyone involved displaying the talent and expertise we associate with Cardiff’s leading drama society – Twisted is definitely up there with one of my favourite performances I’ve attended on campus this year!