Jack and the Beanstalk
9th December 2017
Ormiston Bushfield Academy
Type of Production
Author: Rob Bristow
I was so excited to be attending my first pantomime of the season, and what a joy for it to be Kindred Drama’s production of Jack And The Beanstalk, their first show since becoming members of NODA earlier in the year. Kindred have a longstanding reputation for mounting plays and musicals of the highest quality and after seeing Jack And The Beanstalk last night, I am very pleased to report back that pantomimes can also be added to their list of accomplishments. We received a very warm welcome to Ormiston Bushfield Academy by Kindred leader, Lisa Collings. The foyer was absolutely bustling with an enthusiastic and excited crowd of family, friends and followers of Kindred Drama. The cast range from 3-18 years old and the evening performance we attended was their third of the day, having already performed for morning and afternoon audiences. For this feat alone the entire cast and crew of Jack And The Beanstalk are to be commended as their energy and enthusiasm were as full and fresh as if this had been their first show of the day!
The show opened with The Best Show In Town, a comical twist on The Producers’ The Worst Show In Town. The opening was packed full of energy and introduced us to the principal characters, Jack, Dame Trott, Simple Simon, King Boris and Princess Jill. We learned from The Giant’s henchman, Fleshcreep, (a sinisterly self-assured performance by Charlotte Birch-James) that the townsfolk of Peterborough needed to raise money to give to The Giant to prevent him from eating all of them. The poor Trott family are forced to sell their beloved cow Daisy (played with beefy bovine brilliance by Alfie Thompson) to raise enough money to pay their taxes to The Giant.
The music was absolutely fantastic throughout the show. The tracks arranged by Steve Hession featured a great range of classic musical theatre, modern pop songs to engage the younger members of the cast, and a few special extras. The Trotts, accompanied by the ensemble, led a rousing rendition of Stick It To The Man from School of Rock, we had a catchy chorus of Reach For The Stars to end Act 1 and to kick off Act 2, Princess Jill’s friends performed Zero To Hero, from Disney’s Hercules. Jill’s friends played by Amelia Glendinning, Cree Stevenson, Cydney Jacobs and Liliana Nieddu all sang and danced with confidence and it was befitting that these younger members had their talents showcased with this great Act 2 opener.
It’s very difficult to pick out a favourite part of the panto, so as we’ve entered the festive period I’m going to be over-indulgent and mention my favourite four sections. Firstly, The Broccoli Song performed by Dame Trott (Jamie Glasby) and Simple Simon (Ben Landy) with younger members of the ensemble. Never have I wanted to get up and join a cast onstage as much as I did last night during this number, the entire cast looked to be having so much fun in front of a projection of their favourite green superfood. The choreography was executed with precision and the lyrics left their lips at lightning speed.
Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours performed by Maisie Ellis as Jack was another highlight of the show for me. Maisie sang beautifully with superb tone and control to her voice. She was joined onstage by Priya Roberts and the senior dancers. Priya is also credited with the choreography here and deserves huge credit for such beautifully staged dance; lyrical yet controlled.
And onto the audience participation…”it’s behind you!”…I loved the dance section by the younger ensemble to What’s That Coming Over The Hill? The whole scene was executed excellently with King Boris (Scott Curtis) and Simple Simon (Ben Landy) being picked off by monsters, until only Dame Trott is left onstage. As the monsters go in for their final bounty they are frightened off by the face of the grotesque Dame. The younger ensemble danced with great energy and I particularly liked the ripped effect of the costumes here which worked really well.
My fourth and final favourite section was the audience song, Grow The Beanstalk. Simple Simon (Ben Landy) and Dame Trott (Jamie Glasby) led the audience in a song with actions and then split the audience into two teams to compete against each other. Landy and Glasby make a formidable double act, both young men appear to be triple threats with great careers ahead of them. As Simple Simon, Landy excels, seemingly having as much fun onstage as those of us in the audience watching him are. Effortlessly he sings and dances like a pro. As the Dame, Glasby is in his element and appears to own the stage, his improvisation and interaction with the audience are a faultless joy and one forgets this young man is still in his teens.
Special mentions must go to Frank Fowles as the Young Dame Trott during a flashback sequence which incorporated a gardening segment, The Great British Rake Off. Frank had charming presence and is certainly one to watch for the future. Also to Princess Jill played by Priya Roberts who dreams of escaping Peterborough and brava to the Kindred team for giving Priya such a challenging number as How Far I’ll Go from Moana to tackle. Priya has excellent diction and a very sweet singing voice and handled this big song with ease. And finally, Elysia Constanzo as Fairy Twinkle who performed with great confidence and engaged well with Kindred’s packed audience.
Hats off to Paul Collings, Lisa Collings and Lizzie Watts for their superb staging, choreography and co-ordination of such an enormous cast. Plaudits to Paul Collings for his comedic script with some jokes so bad they were good and some witty lyric changes to the wonderfully eclectic plethora of songs, played by Steve Hession, who multitasks playing keyboards whilst controlling sound and lighting effects with ease. There was a lack of set but the projections by Popcorn Media served the show well and provided more space for the cast to all be on stage together for the finale number.
Jack saves Peterborough from the Giant by beating Fleshcreep in the Lip Sync battle and the night continues at lightning pace to the finale number – Oh What A Night! Oh what a night indeed! A truly excellent pantomime, great fun and it’s certainly put me in the mood for the festive period. Thank you to Kindred Drama and a huge congratulations on this fantastic production.