Jack and the Beanstalk Adjudication

Well done one and all!…Peter.

‘This was, indeed, a really enjoyable show in true pantomime tradition. Thank you’

NORTH ESSEX THEATRE GROUP

PLAY- JACK and the BEANSTALK
GROUP- THE ORPEN PLAYERS
DATE- JANUARY 30th 2016

INTRODUCTION- Val Taylor and I arrived at the venue and were greeted with cheerful smiles and escorted to our seats just behind some twenty or so Brownies all eager for the “panto ” to start. Behind us were many more young people with parents and friends – a full house of happy anticipation.
The programme was clear and gave all the information required. Obviously we were to look forward to watching a large cast and preparation had demanded a sizeable production team.

THE SET- The closed dark red curtains were a perfect backdrop for the entrance of the evil Fleshcreep, causing us all a breathless moment before the curtain opened on to a bright and colourful scene of the village painted by Peter Cox . Buildings were well defined and the structure gave a real feeling of prospective , a good sense of depth . Entrances and exits were were placed to help create a sense of all roads leading to further unseen parts of the place. All this still allowed space on this small stage for well managed movement of numbers of actors. The various scenes of cottages and cave were created in simple style achieved by the clever placing of various props. The changes were carried out with fluency.

PROPS- Vicky Jackson supplied a variety of props both to help the changes of scene as well as those used by individual characters. The beanstalk was remarkable and the representation of the King’s coach ideal for this stage. Flags ,food, baby, hot water bottle are examples that demonstrate some of the variety of well conceived props

LIGHTING- Nick White was kept busy with creating a variety of effects from that of the brightly lit windows in the cheerful village to the fearsome dwelling of the giant lit in blue. Lighting appeared well timed and established the atmosphere well. Follow spots highlighted the characters convincingly so that the audience’s attention was drawn appropriately. Indeed the lighting was well devised and executed.

SOUND – There were some good sound effects which enhanced the action and atmosphere off this pantomime. The sound of the Giant certainly had the Brownies on the edge of their seats, not just his roar but the heavy footsteps suggesting some very large boots. Starting with the booming voiceover captured everyone’s attention immediately. The Giant’s swallow was amusing.

COSTUME & MAKE-UP – Colour and variety of the many outfits created a lively vision for everyone to enjoy and characters were well depicted by their costume. Equally the make- up was appropriately exaggerated as for the Dame and actors were wonderfully disguised as the characters of Fleshcreep and Mrs Blunderbore.
Attention to detail was obvious in such outfits as that of Fairy Flora and the matching Spick and Span. The costumes looked fresh and well fitting. The King’s rich colours gave him a regal appearance whilst Daisy was an immaculate cow and Puff looked a cute Magic Dragon. Nicole Long did a good job in devising such a diversity of colour.

PERFORMANCES –
Fleshcreep- A snarling , scowling character which Colin Dowler presented with good facial expression and large gesture; both frightening and amusing. He engaged with the audience well and moved with apparent ease looking large and threatening to which the young audience responded enthusiastically. An enjoyable performance.

Fairy Flora – Deborah Hornigold presented the perfect foil to the menacing Fleshcreep. Always smiling, bright, beautifully attired, kindly and very much at ease in playing this part she spoke with humour and a suggestion of a country dialect and positivity suggesting ,as a Good fairy would, that she could put everything right.

Clarence- Timing his entrances and exits well, Frank Barker encouraged the chorus and gave an air of confidence as he prepared the crowds for the entrances of the King and when information needed to be given.

Princess – Isobel Pike used her eyes well to convey her feelings. Her movement was easy and her dialogue with Jack was well paced and meaningful.

King Satupon – This was a royal performance from Mike Poole. His voice and demeanour were both indicators of the pomposity of this character. He moved with ease amongst his “people” and delivered lines in a deliberate manner.

Sergeant Spick&Corporal Span- Not only did these two characters move precisely together but dialogue was timed as precisely. This created a very amusing duo who appeared in short bursts and disappeared as quickly. Robin Warnes and Chrissie Kettle made the most of their parts to put smiles on our faces . These were enjoyable, consistent performances.

Daisy- This cow’s manipulators, Lorraine Usher and Tracy Williams – Macklin, are to be congratulated for their hidden, excellent coordination. They gave Daisy life and caused uproarious laughter until hearing of the proposed sale which immediately saddened the audience,. Daisy’s posture ,especially that of her head said it all. Their dance with the Trott family was simple but delightfully performed. Well done.

Billy Trott – Kim Bennett immediately conveyed the lively nature of this character which was maintained throughout the performance. The children responded well to the jokes and naughty antics with delight and shouts of approval. A well sustained and funny performance .

Jack Trott – Abby Sadler playing the Dame’s younger son, did so with confidence holding the audience’s attention – not the easiest thing when the part is probably the only serious character in the pantomime. It had charm and warmth, showing qualities of an upright, honest young man. Abby spoke and sang with clarity. Her stance and general movement conveyed the stature of a lovable young man convincingly. An enjoyable performance.

Dame Lara Trott – With overtones of Camilla Batman Gelish, Ricci Mussi made the character a delight to watch. Brilliantly costumed both in style and colour Lara flowed round the stage with ease. Timing was used to carry the audience along so that they were enthusiastic for more. Her relationship with her sons was a mixture of sadism and devotion- hilarious to watch. Her strip scene was handled with great panache and humour. Always inclusive of the audience Ricci always controlled the situations with ease. A most enjoyable performance.

Mrs Blundabore – A female equivalent of Fleshcreep though somewhat cleaner in appearance though still “dark” Anne Sexton made a dynamic, swirling entrance enveloped in a avalanche of dark rags and tousled hair standing on end. Her voice , loud and threatening , certainly lived up to her appearance and movement. A commendable performance that had the young audience aghast.

Giant Blundabore – Colm Coyle, in huge boots, very broad shoulders and with a strong Irish voice certainly made everyone sit up. We could certainly believe the huge sound from the voiceover had come from this creature. He was able to stride around the stage with ease and his manner was suitably menacing. Well done.

Puff the Dragon – Millie Hack appeared in this part as a sweet, gentle creature which the audience warmed to.
Warmth and good rapport with the audience.
The Magic People & The Minions – It was refreshing to see this young group working well together whether speaking, dancing or singing and in confident manner. They had vitality and were obviously enjoying themselves but always maintaining character.
Movement around and on and off the stage was well controlled. Well done.

DIRECTION – John Morley’s script came to life under the direction of Peter Cox. It appeared to have been tightly directed without losing the warmth and rapport with the audience. Overall the performance had vitality and pace without losing the variety of delivery necessary to hold attention and define the plot. As mentioned there was good rapport with the audience but always well controlled and never too long so that the action could move on to hold even the youngest’s attention. Dancing was kept simple and singing clear and confident and well supported by the musicians. Above all it appeared that the cast were all enjoying themselves and working well as a team.
This was, indeed, a really enjoyable show in true pantomime tradition. Thank you

ADJUDICATED by Kate Sheffield and Val Taylor.

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