Review: Antonia Merola Jones
Photos: Brian Roberts
Nothing signals the start of the festive season for me more than a trip to a pantomime – and where better to start than Theatr Clwyd’s acclaimed rock’n’roll Panto.
Theatr Clwyd has built up a strong reputation for their Christmas pantomimes over the years with the captivating sets, infectious musical score, outstanding costumes and high-energy quality actor-musicians. And this year’s festive offering of Jack and the Beanstalk failed to disappoint and delivered everything you would expect from a pantomime and more besides – along with your typical one liners, local gags and political satire.
There were, as expected, a plethora of local in-jokes and I really enjoyed the use of the Welsh language peppered throughout the show – even if you aren’t a Welsh speaker, I think you’d embrace the Welsh culture.
From the moment the audience walked in to the Anthony Hopkin’s auditorium we were immersed into the show, cast members greeted us and bubbles drifted over our heads – and got us soaked for a good 10 minutes (preparing us I am sure for the water gun soaking later in the performance) – before the sudden strike of lightening and ‘bang’ the first song starts and we are ready for some fun!
The stunning set designed by Adrian Gee to show the different locations from Jack’s home to the Giant’s home threw up some pretty big design challenges – including the reveal of the beanstalk and the giant’s impressive mechanical arm which gave a bit of a fright to my almost five-year-old son (now he can’t stop going on about how ‘cool’ it was!). Oh and not to mention the trap doors as the characters would appear in a gush of dry ice!
Making her Clwyd Panto debut is Katie Elin-Salt (Fairy Daffodil), she dazzled throughout the show with her eye-catching yellow costume and powerhouse vocal ability – probably the best voice out of all the cast and she had stiff competition as they all had tremendous vocals! Salt and the panto resident villain, Poison Ivy, played by Lynwen Haf Roberts, worked great together and Haf Roberts’ her rendition of I put A Spell on You was a killer really showing off how she plays the villain part at ease.
Throughout the performance puppets popped up. as well as the Golden Goose which brought some more fun for the younger members of the audience.
Clwyd favourite Phylip Harries was back for his 13th performance as the Dame, this year playing Tegwyn Trott. He kept the innuendos coming thick and fast and his comic timing and interactions with the audience were unparalleled, whilst one of the highlights of the evening was certainly Squire Simon Stinker’s entrance – a rendition of ‘Slim Shady’ on a gold-adorned hoverboard, played assuredly by Adam Barlow.
Jessica Jolleys presents a charming Jill Stinker with an effortless vocal ability and impressive piano and trumpet playing. Together, her and Jack, played by fan favourite and multi-talented, Peter Mooney, create a romance fit for a fairy-tale, both are a joy to watch. Mooney’s pleasant pheasant plucker scene between him, Ben Locke (Jack’s lovable brother Tommy) and Harries was a simple yet effortless and funny performance by the talented actors.
Locke’s timing, facial expressions and physical comedy were impeccable and his lovable bond with his cow Daisy is comical.
The live music was phenomenal and the songs came thick and fast as you would expect with a rock ‘n’ roll panto. The show mixed older favourites such as Living On A Prayer and You’re The One That I Want with more contempory songs such as Shotgun and Thinking Out Loud. It led to lots of dancing in the aisles at the end with the whole audience on their feet dancing to I’m Every Woman and I Love Rock ‘n’ Rol – if that isn’t a sign of a good show then what is!
I encourage you to go and see this fun-filled performamce. It’s brilliant entertainmenet for all the family and we left feeling uplifted, singing some of the songs on the way home!
Jack and the Beanstalk runs until January 18, 2020. Tickets are selling fast so get yours now at https://www.theatrclwyd.com/en/whats-on/jack-the-beanstalk/
5 stars***** for Jack and the Beanstalk