JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

APeel Drama Group

Director: Geoff Millard

Choreographer: Sarah Whitfield

 

We have all had our jabs; the missing element to lift the nation after lock down is “A Covid Busting Pantomime”

 

The audience was made most welcome by the front of house members whose “meet and greet” set the mood for the evening.

 

The limitations of the stage were all addressed so that the ebb and flow within the pantomime was never broken. Scenic artist, John Essex, and his team created a set that was pure pantoland. The cast was well dressed with colourful costumes created by Jean Kilburn who oversaw the juniors’ costumes and Mary Millard who was responsible for the adults. That all important extra element, the lighting plot, the execution of which added atmosphere with the sound giving an overall clarity.

 

Pantomime is the cousin of drama, and is as difficult to present, especially if the formula is not adhered to. This has to start with the script. For this Jack, the Giant Killer, an in house script was used (Mary & Geoff Millard). Except for the opening all the scenes were short tight and move on to the next. The “Panto Business” was woven in giving room for the characters to work the audience. The milking of Daisy was very entertaining. Everything about the opening worked, it was just maybe a tad too long. However, the casting could not have been bettered and there were no weak links.

 

It was welcome back to The Whitefield School of Dancing which created the chorus of villagers and other characters. Their members execution of the choreography was very good. Amelia-Rose, Melody, Maizie and Elainie were given the opportunity of playing characters. They all carried this off with enthusiasm and truth. All the musical content enhanced the story. None of the numbers was laboured with just a verse and a chorus to keep the pace of the pantomime. Music supplied by backing tracks by Kola Adetola.

 

Pantomime has well drawn stock characters that are tried and tested; they also give plenty of room for the actor to put his or her own individual stamp on the role.

 

The most important character is the Buttons type, a friend of the audience. In Jack and Beanstalk it is Simple Simon. This role was played by Stacey Dawber, and was her debut to the world of pantomime: and what a natural Stacey is. She worked the audience as though she has had a lot of experience. Never once did the energy levels drop, pushing her scenes; everyone was her friend and the audience shouted and cheered for Simple Simon. His pantomime brother is Jack (I am so pleased that tradition prevailed), played by Naomi Rostron who was every inch a thigh-slapping principal boy. His Jill, the Baroness’s daughter, the principal girl, was given all the niceties by Amy Faulkner. Their handling of their respective characterisations was in true fairy tale believability.

 

Comedy has to prevail: we were introduced to two duos, the Baroness (Gillian Roberts) and Flunkit, (Harvey Millard), Snot (Shaun Crossley) and Bogie (Norman Beaver). The four of them were integral to the comic heart of this pantomime. They received good response from the audience for their set routines. Into the mix, Dame Trott (Marc Lyth) contributed to the fun of the goings on. And we certainly cannot forget the skin roles of Daisy, the cow, and Hetty, the Hen.

 

The conflict between good and evil, with the villain only entering and exiting stage left, and the fairy entering and exiting stage right, is the most important tradition of Pantomime. Fairy Cup Cake and Slimeball kept to the rules of pantomime. Ann Berningham delivered her rhyming couplets with understanding and got the cheers when evil was conquered. Simon Darlington showed how to wind-up an audience earning his hisses and boos.

 

I travelled home feeling completely Covid Busted.