Review: Jack And The Beanstalk (Panto)

The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury

“He’s behind you!”

Tewkesbury’s The Roses theatre guarantees you an extremely fun and eventful afternoon or evening if you get the opportunity to see this year’s pantomime, Jack And The Beanstalk. The entire family will be laughing along with the merry antics occurring on stage.

With an abundance of audience interaction, writer and director Ben Crocker has developed very colourful characters in his rendition of this traditional pantomime, all of which animatedly engage the spectating youngsters, and some adults too when Noel White as Jack’s mother, Dame Trott gets his… sorry, her… way! There are plenty of visual and vocal jokes for all generations, some of which may make you blush with their euphemisms and occasionally making fun of recent news topics and stories. Community spirit is always a magical ingredient in panto, celebrating birthdays and schools or clubs helps build the excitement for the kids, and White’s Dame is the perfect ambassador for this element of the show.

Both adults and kids alike though will be in awe when the Giant makes his inevitable appearance… Throughout the show his physical presence is hidden, except for his fearsome and booming voice (provided by the extremely versatile Kali Peacock), but he is eventually revealed to the wonderment of the audience. Yes the Giant is the “big bad” of this panto (oh yes he is!), but it is Philip Andrew’s character Slimeball, who really encourages the boos and hisses. Andrew relishes being an evil villain, and is a fantastic contrast to Peacock’s consistently rhyming Eco-Fairy, both also serving as narrators to the piece.

Charlie Haskins as Simple Simon and White’s Dame, are the comic duo and soul of the production in amongst the storytelling, with an occasional appearance from Daisy the cow to milk-shake things up a bit. Kali Peacock also plays Flunkit, the servant to Joe Hall’s King Bertram, and when they join forces with Haskins and White on stage, mayhem ensues! This sometimes leads to the extra delight of the audience when the actors almost break character and laugh at themselves, all in the spirit of pantomime.

Love interest Princess Demelza is played by Millie Booth, her warm smile melting the heart of the hero, Jack Trott, played by Elizabeth Christensen, and possibly some of the audience too! Christensen is highly energetic and gives a terrific performance as the young lad Jack, throwing her all into every moment on stage.

Amongst Andy Allpass’ inventive arrangements of popular tunes and musical numbers, towards the end of the first act the Beanstalk is given its own song! Little Shop of Horrors’ “Feed Me” by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, gets some lyric alterations and becomes a dance number, and in homage to the infamous Audrey II, the familiar puppet has been cast as the title plant in this panto. The Beanstalk comes alive with flailing tendrils and singing from its gaping maw (although minus the teeth), the stage becomes dark as night and an inspired use of fluorescents are accentuated by UV, which eerily gives complete focus to the growing stalk and the singing vegetation that surround it. There’s a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” surprise for the very end of the number too before the stage is lit once more.

All in all, the pantomime formula is complete in this production of Jack And The Beanstalk. Following a British tradition in theatre in celebrating the festive season, the adventures of Jack Trott brings laughter, energy and enchantment to an audience of all ages!

Jack And The Beanstalk is performing at The Roses theatre in Tewkesbury until January 2014.

TJM

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