Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Jack and The Beanstalk Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne

Jack and The Beanstalk
Devonshire Park Theatre
11 December 2009 - 10 January 2010

(performance seen 15th December)

Cast (appearance order)

Karen Mann - Fairy Fuschia
Kevin Pallister - Fleshcreep
Carl Patrick - Simple Simon
Emma Barton - Jack
Martyn Knight - Dame Trott
Sophie Isaacs - The Princess Jill
David Alder - King Kuthbert
Daisy Meadows - Clarabelle
Herbert James - Giant Blunderbore
Chris Jordan - As Voice Of Blunderbore


Fela Lufadeju
Scott Mobley
Gemma Naylor
Jessica Phillips (Dance Captain)
Gabriella Antrobus
Nicola Cosshall
Rosie Firth
Katie Wiltshire

and the talented Students from the Deborah Lamb Theatre School

Jack and The Beanstalk Devonshire Park Theatre EastbourneMen in womens clothing, women dressed as men, jokes that make you cringe, costumes that are so bright they may be able to restore the sight of the partially sighted, slapstick comedy moments, "it's behind you!" screams, loud boos, Benny Hill type cast chases around the auditorium, kids with infectious giggles and the constant rustling of bags of sweets.

Yes it's Panto time again!!

Now as over 2000 of you now read this little theatrical blog each month (thank you so much!) you may just want to know if it is any good and whether you should book a ticket?

Well we don't live in Eastbourne so it's not that easy for us to go again but if we were local we would. Our 2 friends who are Eastbournians, who were with us last night, are doing just that.

Just get on the phone and book it - 01323 412000 - and don't just take the kids. Take your parents, grandparents and anybody else who would like a good laugh and a very fun night out.

This isn't just panto - it's Eastbourne' panto.

This is an outstanding production by Eastbourne's artistic director Chris Jordan. But it is not simply excellent from an acting point of view but it is also a technological masterpiece. The beanstalk itself is amazing. This huge hydraulic stalk has actually had it's details and dimensions submitted to the Guinness Book Of World Records as it may be the largest and tallest panto beanstalk to date. We'll wait to see if The Devonshire Park Theatre gets an entry in the 2011 edition.

Then there's the giant and what a wonderful giant it is. If you look at my main site (http://www.fdpt.org.uk/) you will see Eastbourne Theatres wonderful preview shots. It's a great shame that there is no shot of the giant as it's a terrific creation and I think it would have been great at grabbing the attention in advertising. Hopefully more material may be released as the show progresses? It reminds me of one of Jim Henson's larger 'Muppet' creations, it is that good.

Lets also give credit to the unseen Herbert James who has to shuffle around on stilts inside this marvellous extraordinarily heavy creation. In addition to being very heavy and cumbersome it must be very hot in there! Herbert you really need to take a bow at the end along with the rest of the cast.

Anyway back to the acting, singing and dancing and comedy side of things.

Lets do the 'leads' first. Ex 'Eastender' Emma Barton makes a lovely Jack. With her beautiful voice, pretty face and incredible smile she was a great choice. Oh and I did just happen to notice that she put the hot into hot pants too!

Emma couldn't hang around long at The Friends Of The Devonshire Park Theatre after show meet the cast event though but she was kind enough to pop out and see us after the matinee the following day.

Emma's 'co-lead' and ex-Emmerdale star Kevin Pallister is no stranger to The Devonshire Park having appeared in the thriller Deadly Game and Noel Coward's Private Lives.

There is no doubt that Kevin is a marvellous actor and as the evil Fleshcreep in this he really makes the role his own. However it's almost worth going to see this show just to see another incredible talent this man has in the second half! I won't spoil it too much but lets just say that before he was an actor Kevin was a musician (and I only found that out from him last night) and Chris Jordan has resurrected this talent allowing him to play an instrument to a massive pop hit accompanied by a musically talented fairy (has to be seen to be believed!)

Now a lot of Panto's use the "back by popular demand" label for certain performers. Whether that is true or not for all is debatable. But in the case of Eastbourne it's absolutley true for Martyn Knight and Carl Patrick. The kids just love these guys. This talented duo must know they are doing something right when they get a massive cheer on their initial entrance that equals, if not exceeds that of the headline TV stars. I am sure Chris Jordan would hate to lose either of these from his annual production as they quite simply are so good at what they do and that is making people laugh - a lot! They also complement each other so well whatever they are doing on stage.

David Alder is perfectly cast as the bumbling King Kuthbert but the hidden talent in this show comes from the lovely Sophie Isaacs. Having just graduated from the London School of Musical Theatre this is not only Sophie's first panto but one of her first major productions. She looks like a princess even without trying and is beautiful vocally too. I am sure this young lady is going to go far in theatre land - a star in the making.

Jack and The Beanstalk at the Devonshire Park theatre has a bit of everything: corny jokes for the kids and a good splattering of 'inuendo jokes' to provide laughs for the big kids, a bit of slapstick (but not overdoing it), a little of on-stage audience participation, excellent vocal performances to a cleverly produced list of songs, stunning costumes and those tremendous props.

You simply can't ask for more.

How Chris Jordan tries to beat this in 2011 with Cinderella is anybody's guess - it will be interesting finding out! I'll just wait to see just where the line about how impressive the Prince's balls are (or similar) gets a place in the script!
5 out of 5 for The Jack and The Beanstalk at The Devonshire Park Theatre in Eastbourne
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