Jack & The Beanstalk

Date 20th February 2024
Society Company of Four
Venue The Riverside Theatre, Woodbridge
Type of Production Pantomime
Written & Directed Oliver Fosker
Assistant Director Adam Thorpe
Musical Director Olly Wood
Choreographers Kayleigh Richardson, Lisa Dersley & Lily Griffiths


Author: Catherine Dixey

Oliver wrote this Panto in 2019 and is now delighted to see it being performed as he takes a lead role, along with his wife Vicky, as the comedy duo of Dingle and Dangle.  He tells me he relied heavily and was very grateful for the assistance of Adam Thorpe, who was also his Stage Manager.  It was a major challenge directing this enormous cast of 10 main leads and a total chorus of 48, the youngest being just 5 years old, not only onstage but in the wings and changing rooms. The chorus had been split into 5 groups from the Tots through to the senior chorus.  You do see them all onstage together very briefly  but with some clever directing and choreography the different groups are brought onto centre stage and dance off with the next group coming forward so the stage never looks overcrowded.    

This was a traditional, well written Panto full of (awful, but well delivered) jokes and one-liners, with all the familiar characters. Ysabel Bloomfield was very confident in her role of Mavis the Fairy and interacted well with her audience. The role of the wicked Cruella was  played by  Chloe Atkinson, her experience and talent are evident and gave a quality performance of the song ‘Bad to the Bone’. Jack was played by Kayleigh Richardson and brought energy and vitality to the role. Jessica Jay played Rose, Jack’s love interest, in a role she portrayed with warmth. This delightful couple bond well together with good songs and harmonies. The dame, Dolly Dumpling was played by Paul Leech. It was his 13th consecutive time of playing the dame, his experience shone through with good, perfectly timed ad-libs and divine covering when it all goes wrong. He sang an incredibly difficult, comedic, rhyming song listing virtually all the towns and villages in Suffolk. What an achievement! 

Vicky and Oliver Fosker, as previously mentioned, played Dingle & Dangle, the comedy duo who worked well together, with good timing and communicated well with the audience. Troy Morden & Kit Widdup were Daisy the Cow. These two lads who portrayed Daisy did so with lovely comedy and a real personality keeping her mouth moving in time to the words right up to the final song. Well done boys. Allan Rogers, though appearing throughout, was also in the final scenes as the  great looking, 10 foot tall Giant, not an easy task to manoeuvre this huge costume around the stage and on and off it!  The large chorus were kept busy with lots of well performed songs and energetic dancing. There were so many great numbers but ‘Cotton Eye Jo’ was particularly effective and enthusiastically performed. The choreographers had played to the strength of their cast including some very accomplished acrobatic moves, and a variety of different genres from ballet to jive and modern dance sequences.

There was a good choice of songs accompanied by 5 piece band and praise should go to Olly, the MD, and the choreographers for the incredible amount of work they did with their cast. The costume list must have been immense with the chorus in numerous, matching, well fitting costumes, incredibly colourful and with very smart plaited hairstyles. Mention must also go the team of chaperones for looking after and dressing all the young ones, what a task they must have had! Finally the set and giant’s beanstalk looked good, lighting and sound all very appropriate and the scene changes were quick and efficient, utilising effective use of front of tabs to ensure good pace.    

Well done to Oliver, all his team and amazing cast for a very enjoyable evening.  

Catherine Dixey. NODA East Representative District E12

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