Mindless festive fun is a knockabout success

Jack and the Beanstalk, Lowther Pavilion, Lytham

Tuesday, 20th December 2016, 12:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:03 pm
The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk
The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk

A packed Saturday audience at the Lowther Pavilion responded enthusiastically to a pleasingly physical performance by a hard-working cast of eight.

To the high proportion of children present what they saw was the most important.

The bounce and bonhomie of cheeky chappy Daniel Griesser as Simple Simon really appeals, whilst Bill Hasting brings exuberance and the colourful contents of several wardrobes to his central role as a grotesquely garish Dame Tilly Trott. You cannot help but like him dressed as a Heinz Beanz can.

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Blackpool-born Jack Wealthall and Laura Wenton are homely, tuneful and attractive as Jack and Princess Jill, whilst Jonny Blazer mixes the Duke of Edinburgh with Kenneth Williams as the King. Jemma Harris, too often unintelligibly shrill, hams it up wickedly as the evil Poison Ivy.

For the third successive year it is the script from Polka Pantomimes which is weak. Local references are laboured, jokes about weeing too frequent and sharp wit conspicuous by its absence. Rebecca Taylor-Grayson as an Essex-based Fairy Sunshine has to battle valiantly with feebly written rhyming couplets.

Fortunately the physical scenes are always comic. A high octane alternative version of The Twelve Days of Christmas by Simple Simon, Dame Tilly and the King has every eye glued to the stage and the little ones are all greatly taken by Daisy the Cow who, without words, steals every scene.

Foot-tapping recorded songs are slickly choreographed, led by Damon Hall and Connor Riding, and the audience enjoyed one of the three teams of six supporting local dancers.

What a pity that no programmes were available, so the families of these hard-working contributors to the show could see their names in print. A pity too that, when local amateur companies all regularly provide at least a dozen dancers, the stage was not fuller in a professional production.

Working the audience is at the heart of every Polka Dot panto at the Lowther and here every member of the cast excels. It makes for a happy show, much enjoyed by families in a festive frame of mind.

Julian Wilde