There’s nothing like a panto performance for schools to get you in the festive spirit. Oh yes there is! Oh no there isn’t!
The youngsters always give an honest reaction, and if they are loud at the shouty bits and not quite so loud for the important bits then you know you are on to a winner.
‘Jack and The Beanstalk’ presented by Angus Council, should then probably come with a risk assessment recommending the use of ear defenders at the Webster Memorial Theatre.
The cast are masters at riling up their audience, whether it’s the traditional shouts or the clever use of a few well-placed pop songs.
Everybody knows the story, but in playwright John Binnie’s version Jack (Nathan Byrne) is joined by sister Jilly (Carmen Pieraccini), Mither Mandy Moo Moo (Stephen Docherty), dashing idiot Prince Designer Labels (Adam Buksh) and the Giant’s henchwoman (Isabelle Joss).
The family are coerced by the Giant’s minions into selling off their beloved cow Daisy for a handful of magical beans and struggle to hold onto their dairy farm and even their very lives!
Nathan Byrne really knows how to work a crowd and it is easy to warm to his character, on top of the physical comedy he has a great voice.
Speaking of holding a tune, Carmen Pieraccini has a wonderful vocal range and her version of ‘Let It Go’ had every child in the audience singing along. Her struggles with the idea of romance with the prince are hilarious.
Adam Buksh is a riot as the super-posh and vainglorious prince, who has a sideline in ‘Made In Carnoustie’, ‘The Great Brechin Bake-Off’ and ‘The Voice’, his rendition of ‘Fancy’ including the Nicky Minaj rap is a treat.
Lowering the tone fantastically is Stephen Docherty as the dame. A raspy-voiced hurricane of chaos he/she has some of the rudest skits and that version of ‘Milkshake’ by Kelis is a wonderful affront to decency. If we counted correctly the dame has at least 10 costume changes, but our favourite was the despondent Robert Smith from The Cure getup.
Isabelle Joss gets to have great fun as she plays the various henchwomen of the evil giant, from the rent collector to the old crone, but she really lets loose her inner Shirley Bassey with ‘Goldfinger’.
We were very impressed with the giant, an invisible threat lurking behind a terrible bellow from off-stage, when he is eventually revealed in all his glory there is quite a surprise.
The young dancers trained by choreographer JJ Christine and assistant Darren Handy are a credit to them, always smiling, fluid and graceful.
The costumes are also fantastic, from the dame’s veritable wardrobe to the dapper look of the prince to Jack’s tartan lederhosen and the dozens of outfits worn by the dancers, costume maker Norma Laing and wardrobe manager Kirsty Wallace should be congratulated.
Musical director Dara Stewart’s soundtrack is a top notch combination of modern pop songs like ‘Happy’ and showtune favourites such as ‘Truly Scrumptious’ from ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’.
Producer Patricia McGowan and director John Binnie have done a great job bringing together a charismatic cast and professional crew to make ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ a riot from start to finish.
The show runs at the Webster Memorial Theatre until Christmas Eve, for times and tickets contact the box office on 01241 435800.