Charles Essex reviews Jack and the Beanstalk at the Priory Theatre, Kenilworth
A former presenter of a television programme for very young children said that the secret of doing that well was to have no embarrassment and to be enthusiastic.
The same can be said for pantomime. The cast of this year’s Priory Theatre production did just that and delivered high quality family entertainment.
To make a pantomime different the director can take the script and plot off in unnecessary directions but Mark Jefferies in his last of 25 years of pantomime at the Priory followed the traditional Jack and the Beanstalk and can be proud of getting the best out of the actors and large cast of young dancers.
As well directing, Mark showed his experience and versatility as he was the leading dame, and his witty banter delighted the audience both young and old. The stooge selected from the audience on the opening night was a good sport who fully engaged with the slapstick and foam pies and milked his ‘15 minutes of fame’.
The songs fitted neatly in to the plot and the singing of the two leading female actors, Cara Gould as Jack and Charlotte Jeffries as Princess Apricot, in particular was very strong. The large chorus of young dancers performed their sequences well with a combination of dance and singing, with two of them in the pantomime cow costume. Claudia Temple’s choreography, with routines that fitted into the story, allowed them a wonderful opportunity to show the skills they have no doubt been perfecting in dance classes.
Mark steered the narrative along whilst frequently changing into outlandish costumes and wigs. The behind-the-scenes staff, often not appreciated by the audience, did well to keep the play moving at a cracking pace with the actors appearing in the theatre balcony and down the aisles and the chorus moving on and off stage regularly. The huge giant’s costume with the actor inside was particularly impressive.
This was a big production and judging by the comments afterwards the audience went away happy – and rightly so.
* Jack and the Beanstalk runs until New Year's Eve. Call 0333 666 3366 to book.