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‘Jack And The Beanstalk’

As I arrived at the hall and walked through to take my seat I was taken by the atmosphere of the bar area; the disco lights added to the sense of anticipation with children gazing in wonder at the lights.  

Eaton Bray has a lovely facility in their village hall.  I was immediately impressed by the lighting set up and the graphics on the main curtain prior to the show.  The trees Velcro-ed onto the curtain were later replaced by sparkling clouds looking great.

Gavyn Lugsden wrote the panto.  It was well constructed with all the elements of a traditional pantomime whilst also including wry comments on the institution of panto.  I enjoyed the jokes included just for the adults – Gavyn had taken time to ensure there was something for everyone.  I liked the flow of the script and it came across as a very accomplished work.

During the early scene with the villagers I was impressed by the confident young chorus.  It was hard to hear the individual lines though which was a shame.  

In the early songs I found the backing track slightly too loud but Jacob Shooter rectified this.  I understand why backing tracks are used but in my opinion there is no substitute for a live band; however small.  

I very much enjoyed “Let it Grow” – a good adaptation of the song.

The neon ballet was good, the cloud fairies performed well.  I liked the backdrop with highlights of neon paint.  A good touch.

I could tell that the chorus loved singing “Roar”.  There was a really feisty spirit to the song.  I enjoyed the amount of chorus work there was in the panto so that everyone could feel involved throughout.  I especially liked the cake-baking scene – this was good old traditional slapstick.  

I would like to mention Nigel Jackson’s lighting design.  This was generally very slick.

I enjoyed Gavyn Lugsden’s portrayal of Horrid Henry.  I was torn between liking the amount of charisma he bought to the role and wondering whether it was appropriate for that part.  I wonder if he could have had a more ominous presence?  

Ben Jackson’s giant was suitably omnipotent.  Ben was credited as Deputy Stage Manager, I am pleased to see younger people being nurtured in technical roles.

Kirsty Partner’s first appearance as the Fairy was good.  The rhyming lines were extremely well written and delivered, however I struggled to hear the lines.  If Kirsty had no mic, she needed to project more, whilst retaining the softness of the Fairy character!  I found myself missing the reassuring appearance of the Fairy but all became clear when she performed her song “Whatever Happened to my Part”.  Kirsty gave an outstanding performance, both singing and acting the song with a great deal of thought and intelligence.

Rhys Hutt certainly threw himself wholeheartedly into the role of Sam.  He also performed very well in the chorus numbers, involving himself as required.

Michele Archer, Helen Mineikis, Angie Campbell and Carole Pollard all gave strong performances throughout.

Ethan Perry had a lovely charisma about him as Vince.  As with Sam, I also enjoyed his performance with the chorus.

Daisy Laird’s Jane was a performance I enjoyed also.

I liked Laura Edwards’ portrayal of Jack Scoffalot.  Laura’s voice was strong and soulful, her songs were performed well.  

Louise Chapman’s first appearance as Simon Scoffalot was on a Scooter.  I liked this detail and that she was wearing Wheelie trainers.  Her performance was self-assured.

Ann Mathews, John Murphy and Elizabeth Gladwin were an excellent comic trio.  Each separate character had distinctive traits.  Ann’s more austere traits which added contrast to the other two.  I loved John Murphy’s portrayal of Alan – very Jimmy Cricket. Elizabeth Gladwin’s interpretation of Titch was excellent.  Her facial expressions were caricature-like and good for panto.  A strong singer, well done to Elizabeth for getting them all back in tune during their song!

Stephen Tomlinson’s portrayal of the King’s Valet was good.  He had just the right amount of “sneer”, looking down on the villagers with high regard for his position.

As the King, Peter Hossack was suitably “bumbling”.  

Elle Laird was soft and gentle as a Princess should be – a good performance.

Mikael Barnard as Eileen Scoffalot was very good.  I liked his motherly side and the kids in the audience loved the egg tennis and water bottle!  Nice range of dresses.  I loved the scene with Eileen and Henry towards the end of the show.  

In summary, I really enjoyed this production.  It had a young contemporary feel to it whilst retaining the traditional elements.  I was able to completely relax and enjoy it - very entertaining and funny.

Thank you to Curtain Call Theatre Group for the invitation and generous hospitality at the performance.

Curtain Call Theatre Group


Director: Julia Sulston

review date: 30th Jan 2015

Village Hall, Eaton Bray


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