site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

The Anvil - Jack and the Beanstalk

16th December 2004 to 9th January 2005.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

As British as spotted dick

Jack And The Beanstalk, at The Anvil, Basingstoke, until January 9

As traditional and peculiarly British as spotted dick and custard or roast beef and Yorkshire pud, the pantomime persists as an annual treat for young and old although, except for what the French call ‘rosbif’, little known and loved beyond these shores.

Never mind, we know what we like at Christmas. The Anvil have come up with yet another sparkling show this year with a cast headed by television personalities such as Anne Charleston, who played Madge in Neighbours and was here seen as a bubbly and effervescent Fairy.

Anna Williamson was an extrovert, lively, if not very masculine Jack but hey, this is panto so who cares?

Tony Scannell, better known as Ted Roach in The Bill, hammed it up wonderfully as Fleshcreep.

Much of the comedy comes from Dame Trott, played here with camp splendour by Stephen David and Silly Billy, performed with gusto by Alistair Divall.

Graham Seed was a suitably dotty King.

Townsfolk were supplied by The Basingstoke Academy of Dancing, the Lisa Jane School of Dance and Kelly Hopkins Theatre Arts.

Direction and choreography were both handled by Chris Hocking.

To get an expert’s opinion, we took nine-year-old Antonia Wong and this is what she said:

“I think this was a really, really GOOD pantomime. It is suitable for any age and is a story full of magical adventure.

“Silly Billy and Dame Trott were my favourite characters because they were full of jokes, hats and really funny, exciting things as well.

“My favourite scene was in the giant’s castle because it had a phone, a teapot and cups and a clock that were alive and made funny faces.”

The Giant, uncredited, was tall and very loud but a bit thin and undernourished looking. Maybe he lacked enough Englishmen’s bones to grind for his bread.

Every panto has a main comedian and this role was taken on by Alistair Divall, along with his other duties.

Silly Billy and Dame Trott had an amusing double act and Alistair did the bit at the end where four tiny tots were brought up on stage to take part in a song. It must surely be every panto comic’s nightmare, but he had one little chap who couldn’t – or wouldn’t – name a favourite animal and even refused to make the animal noises which were assigned to him in desperation.

This was a bright and constantly pulsating show and anyone who thinks the actors and comedians don’t earn every penny they are paid, maybe it’s time to think again.