Jack'll do for new Pendle theatre company's first panto

Jack and the Beanstalk. Peter Anslow Photography
Jack and the Beanstalk. Peter Anslow Photography

With thunderous booms of gigantic footsteps and delighted shrieks of anticipation, the new theatre company in Pendle, Theatre Worx, burst onto the stage this week with its first production of Jack And The Beanstalk.

A circus scene introduces the cast, showcasing Daniel Mason’s clever choreography and igniting our imagination for what is to be a night of song, dance and very funny scripted and ad-libbed witticisms.

Simple and extremely effective staging, in the form of painted backdrops, beautifully sets each scene; familiar songs from stage and the charts encourage us to participate from our seats – we know the words, we are fully immersed in the moments.

Josh Hindle (Jack Trott) and Jessica Balderstone (Jill Crumble) assuredly fill the stage with their vocals on several occasions; they are a convincing couple. Laura Schofield is also truly wonderful: her powerful glorious voice soars through the theatre up to the circle during ‘I Put A Spell On You’, enhancing her visual impact as Fleshcreep. Laura’s duet with Gillian Mason (Mrs Blunderbore), ‘Anything You Do (I Can Do Better)’ is a joy.

Richard Sanderson (surely, born to be a pantomime dame) is the MC of the night, flouncing onto the stage, parading an array of gorgeous costumes, posturing and joking until our eyes weep with laughter: it is he who guides us through the story and brings out the very best in adults and children alike.

With stunning costumes, fabulous creations for the Giant (Karl Pilkington) and Buttercup (Kaden Doult and Bridgett Jones) the hard work in bringing this production together is to be admired.

The Vegetable Fairy (Helen Spencer) with her leek wand, brings calm to proceedings when things become riotous, and David Smith’s Simple Simon is engagingly warm given the antics going on around him. An enthusiastic and able ensemble includes Andrew Bell, Catherine Fewster, Karen Wormwell, Simon Thompson, Heather Kitchen, Ryan Collett, with dancers Emma Bamber, Mollie Thompson, Harriet Renda, Laura Jackson, Leon Turnbull and Stephanie Byatt.

This is a production that sneaks in a few hilarious asides for the parents; however, it is fundamentally all about the children, and giving them a night to remember.

Directed by Josh Hindle and David Smith and with Lisa Manley as Musical Director, the production runs at the Pendle Hippodrome until Saturday (with a matinee 2pm). Curtain 7-30pm nightly.