Jack and the Beanstalk, Harpenden Halls to 22 December
Read – and hear – all about it in this review by Judi Herman
A fun-filled family panto is what it says on the tin and that’s exactly what you get from panto writer/director/performer Chris Law. Law himself is Simple Simon the audience’s best mate and he’s found himself a splendid team of onstage mates too. Sally James is as warm, kindly and resourceful a fairy as you could wish for – if she grants wishes that is! The evil boots of her evil oppo, Fleshcreep, the giant’s henchman, are filled with hiss and boo-worthy relish by a certain Ernie Almond.
I rather fell in love with Hayley Cutts’ slender thigh-slapping Jack, a bold lad who loves his lass, his mum – and his cow – and is prepared to risk his all to rescue them from the dastardly giant. The local lass in question is a genuinely beautiful princess, raven-haired Sophie Massie, who, as advertised, does indeed have a lovely pure singing voice. And to fill the stage with fun, you couldn’t beat Daisy the cow (amply and expertly filled by choreographer Sarah Andrews and presumably a close relative, Roger Andrews!) and her Junoesque owner Dame Trot. Richard Aucott is a terrific and very fetching Dame, with sensationally glamorous costumes – a new one to look forward to for every entrance! Law writes himself some fine groan-inducing puns and has a good double act going with Baxter the Monkey.
To complete the ingredients for a perfect panto, add an imposing though ineffectual monarch (Andrew Willis), a fetching foursome of girl dancers (Kerri Hicks, Tamsin Nawathe, Hannah Petley and Laura Stevens) and a delightful childrens’ chorus of five. We saw team A, which included the only lad, young Isaac Barker, obviously revelling in every moment he gets to be onstage, as indeed do the rest of team A, Kaitlin Law (Daddy’s girl of course!), Chloe Nasmyth-Miller, Bridey Perryer and Madeline Roy, all of whom have wonderfully happy smiles
The Panto Band, under the direction of Steve Parker, does a great job in keeping up the pace and the mood. The eclectic choice of music includes a well-chosen treat for Sondheim fans, There Are Giants in the Sky, from his dark fairy-tale musical Into the Woods. Curiously there is no credit for design, for I rather loved the village set, with its Battenberg cake coloured pink and yellow cottages and there were plenty of oohs and aahs at the set and costume changes last night!
To hear a verdict on the show from a local family – and a chat with Fleshcreep and Dame Trot – click here: