“Jack and The Beanstalk”, Blackmore Players – Blackmore Village Hall
Martin Herford and the cast of Jack & The Beanstalk
I had not seen a production at Blackmore when asked to attend this year’s pantomime, so I really did not know what to expect but Blackmore Village Hall is a delightful venue and the welcome was very warm particularly from a very dapper gentleman in his dinner jacket and bow tie who greeted us at the door. I do think it’s nice when people make the act of going to the theatre so special like this – Long live the front of house staff dressing up.
The pantomime started with some strong energy from the 3 fairies led by Barbara Harrold as the Eco Fairy, all nicely delivering their different characters and the conniving villain of the piece, Slimeball.
Right from his first entrance, it was clear that James Hughes as Slimeball was in complete command of the stage. His diction was excellent and he was obviously revelling in his ‘badness’. I thought his overall performance was definitely one of the strongest in the company. Amy Pudney as Jack had great style playing a traditional principal boy, she sang very well and looked the part from head to toe, Sarah Taylor as Princess Demelza sang sweetly and was a very angelic princess who danced well with the company. I thought it particularly nice to see a young man in the tap ensemble and he proceeded to work hard in the company for the rest of the show.
Martin Herford as the King was difficult to hear at times mostly due to rushed dialogue but he did add some lovely comedic moments as did Steve Drinkall as Flunkit, the section with him as the tree was particularly well played.
However, The stage lit up with the true essence of panto when Craig Stevens as Simple Simon joined the cast. The tempo immediately picked up and the audience enjoyed every moment. Craig showed a natural ability for audience interaction never more prominent than in the sing-a-along audience participation section in Act 2 -How delightful was that. He is a natural performer and this shone throughout. Both Craig and James, as the two main elements of good and evil were a complete joy to watch.
The Dame, as an intrinsic part of panto, is sometimes a difficult part to get just right – how much male and how much female should you put into the character. I felt Keith Goody as the dame was not really comfortable at the beginning of the evening and it felt strained and a bit awkward as he seemed to struggle with both the character and dialogue but during Act Two he seemed to relax more into the part and as a result grew in confidence and performance. I also thoroughly enjoyed Rebecca Smith as Daisy the Cow. With a non-speaking role, it’s often difficult to convey a characterisation but we all could relate and emote with Daisy.
One of the best numbers of the evening, in my opinion, came in Act Two with Alf Currey as Giant Blunderbore and the henchmen as his backing singers.
The sets were lovely and the costumes some of the nicest I have seen in a small society for a long time. It was also so good to see everyone on stage enjoying it so much, some of the script was a little laboured but the choice of music made up for that and certainly had the audience tapping its toes and singing along.
It was sad that the audience was a little on the small side last night but I am so pleased that we have groups like this performing all over the country and I’m would recommend if you want a fun evening out then get tickets, sit back and enjoy this little gem of a traditional pantomime.