Jack and the Beanstalk

Rodmell Panto receives rave reviews!!

Mesmerising! (Mail on Sunday)

Jack & the Beanstalk reached new heights!    (Time Out)

Now that’s entertainment!   (Evening Standard)

A GIANT of a Panto   (Telegraph)

A village show…outstanding in its field    (Parish Pump)

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Another year, another Panto – but this time under new Direction in the person of Spencer Prosser, better known to locals for his cricketing skills and now for his impenetrable Brummie accent. This year’s offering was Jack and the Beanstalk, a rather convoluted tale involving two (at least) young lovers, an unsavoury toff, some impoverished peasants, a cow, two conmen, a goose, a golden egg, a ghost and a giant. The plot was in the best traditions of pantomime, i.e pretty similar to all other pantomime plots, as were the characters, who, in the best traditions of Rodmell were mostly played by the usual village suspects. As usual the component parts were all loosely connected by a series of fearful jokes.

Needless to say the whole enterprise was warmly received by the audiences. Our resident drama critic is currently tied up with the BAFTAs, but has indicated that he strongly endorsed the sea-change in the pantomime’s philosophy, particularly shown by a more responsible attitude towards the reputations of worthy villagers, a lessening of emphasis on gender-fluid characterisations, a more ‘woke’ attitude towards sexual stereotyping and a return to the more old-fashioned pantomime virtues of dreadful puns and more even-handed references to aspects of the male and female anatomy.

Happily, Mr Prosser has discovered a most useful review in the Arts section of the East Lothian Farmers’ Weekly, which he has forwarded to us.

After much fevered anticipation, Rodmell Village Panto once again rose to new levels of entertainment. This year saw the welcome return of Jack & the Beanstalk with a stellar cast and a few new debut performers too, with new Director, Spencer Prosser, taking up the baton to carry everyone forward.

A well-known tale of love, greed, stupidity and magic kept everyone on the edge of their seats. Abbie Benham-Wood was a confident & charismatic Jack – in love with the Baron Abergavenny’s lovely daughter Sally-Anne (played superbly by Torie Joyce). Jack’s mother Dame Strapp saw Richard Roberts don the dress and high heels for the first time. Who knew he was such a natural dame with eyelashes to outdo the Panto cow Caroline (played magnificently by Jude Barlow & Charlie Branton).

Jack’s younger brother Simon was played with gusto by a near unrecognisable David Smart. Money grabbing Baron Abergavenny saw Richard Sellick hone his posh-toff characterisation to a tee. Henchmen Tommy Shall-be (Spencer Prosser) & Arthur Won’t-be (Lindy Smart) took on a darker mantle to previous productions. With a touch of northern menace and a strong whiff of those Peaky Blinders, they played on their sibling rivalry to good effect. Fanny the Blacksmith played by Jo Mortimer was feisty and strong on Girl-Power. Sandy (Jane Finch) & Mandy (Sarah Last) were typical village teenagers, bored but with sooo… much to do locally.

Nurse Tilly (Lucie Sargent) was by turns scary and hypnotic and an all round good egg. Sarah Jay played her Harp role with a good dollop of condescension and scathing wit. Lily wafted about as the ghost and did a good job of frightening the villagers. Paul Mellor stepped into the breach late-on to play the Golden Goose. Last but not least the Giant (Tom Woodbridge) showed everyone quite spectacularly that appearances can be deceptive.

Jack found his fortune and could marry Sally-Anne. Dame Strapp took a shine to Arthur. Fanny forged an alliance with Simon. Sandy & Mandy became bored bridesmaids. The Harp played the wedding gig. Caroline supplied the Harvey’s Best Bitter for the after party. Nurse Tilly adopted the Giant. Baron Abergavenny wasn’t homeless and Tommy finally broke free from his stupid brother.

None of this would have been possible without Martin Burnaby-Davies providing all the bangs, flashes and a climbing beanstalk. Our music maestro, Uncle Andy Stewart, was the glue that held it all together. Costumes organised by Lesley Prosser and Kim Mercer. Props – Helen O’Connor.  Script writing – Paul Mellor and Lindy Smart.  Scenery produced by Jo Mortimer & Abby Benham-Wood. Bar supplied by the Abergavenny Arms and run by Carol & Jerry Ashplant. All the lovely ladies that were front of house were managed by Fiona Roberts.

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