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I enjoyed this production, and thought the cast accomplished the feel of panto very well, with lots of excellent local references and some good performances.

The set was very good, excellent backdrop, I liked Fairy Fuchsia’s garden, and i thought the kitchen backdrop was also very good, extreme attention to detail, even the little cracks where the beam was inserted into the wall over the oven.  Little things like that show the pride of a scene painters design and craft.  

The lighting was excellent throughout, some lovely effects, particularly at the beginning of Act 2 in the garden.  The projections used were also lovely and enhanced the action.

Sound balance was maintained well, so we always heard the cast, but the band were also heard but not overpowering.  Sound effects also helped to create interest during the action.  I liked the effects created by Adam Harris for the Giant – it gave Bob Randall an excellent persona, although we never saw him.

Costumes were very good – colourful and suitable for the characters.

I liked the choice of music and was impressed that Dan Cowtan kept all the numbers short and snappy, with his band playing really well throughout.  I understand Dan used youngsters, so I was impressed with the standard of playing.  I thought the tempo of some of the numbers was a little too fast, the cast had trouble keeping up, but I suppose that is better than dragging the pace!

Rachel Parkins and Chris Armitt created the opposing powers of good and evil well, as Fairy Fuchsia and Fleshcreep respectively.  I found they were both sometimes a little difficult to hear, as they rather rushed some of their lib, but the character intentions were there.

Paul Passi was a fun King Kuthbert, and Terry Casserley created a good Simon – getting the rather idiotic slightly dumb character well.  He certainly got the audience involved, and we enjoyed shouting at him.

Babette Smith was a very dashing Jack – she gets the slightly naive feel of the character and the devil-may-care attitude very well, which is just right for a Principal Boy.  Babette had some nice numbers, which she sang and put over well.

Pippa Taylor as Princess Jill was a good foil to Jack, and they interacted nicely, creating a good partnership.

Greg Rudkin-Moore was a very upright Dame Trott, but he had all the attributes of a good Dame, and a doting mother!!  Sometimes understated, on the whole I liked what he did with the part.

Clarabelle the Cow was nicely filled by George Hutchinson and Tom Couch – some nifty dance steps, and amazing how much feeling can be got from an inanimate head – nicely managed.

The ensemble had a nice time and showed their enjoyment, but it would have been nice to have had a few children in the ensemble – just to create a balance.

So, once again a most enjoyable production, and it was good to catch up with some amdram colleagues during the course of the evening.

Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company

JACK & THE BEANSTALK” review date: 12th Dec ‘13 Boxmoor Playhouse

Director:  Ian Gower  MD: Dan Cowtan

Choreographer: Fiona Quilter


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