IF it is beautiful costumes, excellent singing, great choice of classic pop songs and an unusually strong company that you want from pantomime, head for Poole’s Lighthouse, where Peter Duncan’s new adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk is on stage until 5th January.
Perhaps best known for his two stints in Blue Peter in the 1980s and for his time as Chief Scout earlier in the 21st century, this is the first time in innumerable pantomimes (latterly in Poole) that he has played the Dame.
Director Jay Worthy has collected an excellent company of singing actors to tell the ever-popular story. He also plays a hilariously rock-star steam-punk Fleshcreep, deeply hissable and much enjoyed by the audience.
Former Sugarbabe Amelle Berrabah, in a beautiful costume, is the woodland fairy, on hand to make sure that Jack gets all the help he needs to get to the top of the beanstalk, slay the giant and save the villagers. Her considerable vocal talents are matched by the rest of company, with Welsh singer-actress Bethan-Wyn Davies as a spirited Jill, Alex Lodge a charming and funny Jack and Connor Byrne as an unusually well characterised Squire. All of them have lots to do as the tale unfolds.
Their characterisations are so full and convincing that Peter Duncan has rather left himself out. He was excellent as the chicken and hopefully his Damely comedy will develop during the run.
The four members of the band have great fun making their way through snippets of classics in all sorts of genres.
We did see the very first performance of the show, in an auditorium packed with schoolchildren who relished every chance to sing their favourite songs and laugh at the slapstick comedy. A few technical hitches will be ironed out by the time you read this, and those with tickets for the coming weeks can be assured of a colourful show that tells the story, with lots of songs and some familiar routines.
The participation song, ideal for a show that is woven through with powerful environmental messages and, of course, stars a cow, is “Why does a brown cow give white milk when it only eats green grass?” –and they don’t make ‘em like that any more.