Monday, January 21, 2013

Jack and the Beanstalk -Review - Westovians

Jack and the Beanstalk
Westovians
19th January 2013

Well here we are again, The skies are dark, the weather is foul (nowt really changes in South Shields) and The Westovians Panto rears its head again.

This time around the good v evil tale is Jack and Beanstalk.
Jack Trott is granted the majestic job of being the last of the giant killers; a role that he doesn't necessarily want to perform, but Philip Meeks (the writer) has popped into his wonderful script - a no get out clause.
The Giant Blunderbore and equally evil Fairy Mildew are the nasties that lurks in his village, Jack along with the help of his colourful comrades must try and abolish this scourge and lead his townsfolk into peaceful times.

Now, what you get at The Westovians Panto year after year is a solid clump of fun, excitement and hilarity all put together by a very dedicated team, the hours that they put into their craft means that the output given to the public is second to none.
From the main scenes at Snuggle-Up Farm with Jack (Craig Richardson) and his mother Dame Gladys Trott (Stephen Sullivan) discussing their needs to stay afloat on the money score, to the eventual sale of Caroline the Cow (front-Lynn Davidson, back-Alicia Todd) this tale was going along nicely and to plan.
The Evil Fairy Mildew (Rachael Walsh) had to stick her oar in tho, and created a lot of hurdles for Jack to jump. Giving him some magic, but evil, beans in exchange for Caroline was one of her plans to thwarth Jack from ever killing the Giant, but of course where there is evil, the equilibrium must be balanced out.
Friendly Fairy Haricot (Laura Pigford) was always on hand to help and steady the sinking ship, with her magic wand she performed all sorts of trickery to foil any dastardly deeds.
King Upsadaisy (James Barton) decreed that anybody who could slay the Giant would have his daughters hand in marriage. This was all the encouragement that Jack needed to do his utmost!
Princess Melody (Amy Jeffels) of course became embroiled in Fairy Mildews quest to stop any harm coming to the giant, with much hilarity in the scenes that followed, that had the full house in stitches and uproars of laughter.
The ending, well you know from seeing this tale a million times is obvious, but how it gets there is the joy of Panto.
Everybody on stage looked very comfortable and seemed to be enjoying themselves, which was very pleasing to see, this in hand with the audience, can go a long way to making a show the success that it is.
Notable mentions for Kylie Ford with a brilliantly funny performance as Foggy, also Mark Lamb and Christopher Perry as Shuffle and Stamp the kings henchmen.
On the technical side the scenery(stage set up by Michael Ferry) was top notch, with the lighting of the stage (Ian Johnson) being of the normal fantastic standard, the sound however in a few parts of the Panto was left lacking, with possibly wireless mics being to blame, rather than the initial set up.
As far as I am are no prompts were harmed in the making of this, so hats off the the hard work of all involved.
Where The Westovians stand out a mile from the others on the Panto scene, is the brilliant improv that goes on between the cast. The added extras of silliness, that lead to the first half running over by 15 minutes, is something that I look forward to every year. This time around the wonderful pairing of Sullivan and Richardson again had my face and belly aching with merriment. A very memorable gunge scene (very synonymous with The Westovians) that went awry, had me crying with laughter. With the facial expressions, and the 'how the hell do we get out of this' attitude from them both, it was well worth any entrance fee alone. It is no wonder that the availability of seats is hard to come by, but if you can manage to get one, then I thoroughly recommend it.

Jack and the Beanstalk is playing until Saturday 26th.

Michael Hunter

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