The Clockhouse Players’ Jack and the Beanstalk – Review
Some magic in those beans! The Clockhouse Players’ Jack and the Beanstalk panto was a gigantic success. Here was the familiar fairytale enmeshed with the Hey Diddle Diddle nursery rhyme, honed to fit the special mix of twenty-one children, senior female chorus of dancers and twelve principals in the group. They could all sing, they could all act, and their enjoyment was infectious – we in the audience all caught the bug.
The music wrapped it altogether, with well chosen up beat numbers from musical to rap to Disney and beyond making the pace. Careful choice of song and well adapted lyrics made every principal confident. They all had a chance to shine and did. The live band with guitars, percussion, keyboard and all sorts could react spontaneously – and amazingly no score in sight.
The acting was convincing and timing good. Even the youngest child had stage presence. Jokes were fast and punched home. Any dropped lines were done in style, with prompt joining the principals. The ‘straight’ characters in panto are often more difficult to play, but the principal boy and girl, in their early teens, excelled.
Act one scenery gave us great perspective as we looked up Jack’s Fore street to Dame Trott’s cowshed – with a familiar pub, shop and clocktower. The beanstalk was a 3D montage of luxuriant growth echoed by the sparkling tendrils on the front flats, thick enough for Jack to climb the rope ladder behind. Naturally no respectable fairy or witch could be without their own particular entry with a bang. But the best pyrotechnic of all was reserved for the NASA space mission. Here the lighting and sound crew had great fun! The whole show was miked very delicately and lit very considerately, and moved seamlessly.
Clockhouse Players’ costumes have always been brilliant. No exception this year. Princess Rose had a wardrobe of dazzling dresses; Fairy Beansprout had one stunning creation. I counted three or four changes for the senior chorus and the same for the twenty-one children, with slave tunics, rustic dress, flower fairy tutus and, best of all, shiny space suits, complete with red NASA caps. Changing logistics needed mission control!
The overall impression that we took home was the complete joy of being involved in this show, summed up at the final curtain by the whole company singing ‘Life’s a happy song. Everything’s perfect.’ It felt good.