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Corn Exchange - Jack and the Beanstalk

3rd December 2004 to 3rd January 2005.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Bag of beans gets the panto jumping

Jack And The Beanstalk, at The Corn Exchange, until January 3

Jack And The Beanstalk, at The Corn Exchange in association with Hiss and Boo, is an absolute cracker of a show. Written by Roy Hudd, it’s a witty, wholesome, hearty pantomime that’s filled with seasonal fun for all the family.

There is an abundance of audience participation and right from the beginning Fairy Lettuce, not any sort of lettuce, but organic, (Anne Smith) encouraged the audience to join in the fun.

Her arch rival the evil giant’s helper Stinkwort (Justin McCarron) was equally anxious to receive his boos and the enthusiastic audience certainly made him know how they felt… oh yes they did.

In the village the delightful Jill, a charming enthusiastic performance by Naomi Kerbel, is hoping that our uncertain and dithering hero Jack, sensitively played by Richard Thomson, will be able to solve the village’s problems but needs help from the audience in order that he will be able to ‘go for it’.

There is some sterling comic work from Jim McManus as the Baron – watch out for his green tights.

But the family can’t pay the Giant’s rent and so poor old Daisy, a real character of a brown cow (Clare Thomson and Mathew Baynton) will need to be sold and so the adventure begins.

Dave Benson brought his own unique style to the role of Dame Foxy Trot from his catchphrase of “Hello Darlings” and the audience’s response of “Hello Gorgeous” he responds with “Oh stop messing about” in true Kenneth William’s style, wonderful stuff and a wonderful performance.

It was good to see the children’s chorus fully integrated into the show and they even had their own number, great stuff. Lisa Barstow’s choreography was crisp and inventive.

Director Cal McCrystal had included many of panto’s best devices from slick slapstick, a magnificent magical beanstalk, a gigantic giant, that really is totally believable, some awful puns and a songsheet. Of course it all ends happily with Jack finally marrying his Jill.

There were some excellent songs and parodies under the very capable hands of musical director Rob Mitchell and a splendid set designed by Alexander McPherson.

A joyous evening’s entertainment, that will delight the whole family.

Don’t miss it!