Volume 10 Week 10

Wednesday, Jan. 26


 

Updated March 11


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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

 

 

 


(Posted 19/12/03)
'Jack and the Beanstalk' panto a treat for all ages
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

For the past nine years the East End Theatre company has brought traditional British pantomime to audiences in Orléans starting with "Aladdin " in 2002. Since then, the annual panto production has become a holiday tradition.

Dame Trot says goodbye to the family cow Daisy before Jack Trot brings it to the market. Fred Sherwin/Photo

This year the East End Theatre company is tackling an old favourite "Jack and the Beanstalk". Part comedy and part musical, the production is 100 per cent entertaining.

Pantomime dates back to Victorian England where it was a popular diversion from the drudgery of daily life. Often described as the original variety show, true pantomime is a mix of comedy, song, audience participation, slapstick humour, puns and, of course, a villain.

"Jack and the Beanstalk" measures up on all fronts and even includes a pantomime cow named Daisy, played by youngsters Sarah Conway and Sophie Melanson-Hayes, which very nearly steals the show.

The success or failure of pantomime depends to a great extent on the audience's willingness to participate and interact with the characters.

The tone was set early on during Friday night's opening performance with the appearance of the giant's henchman Fleshcreep, played despicable by David McNorgan. As soon as McNorgan crept onto the stage, completely dressed in black, the boos started raining down from the Shenkman Arts Centre audience.

The boos soon turned to cheers with the appearance of the Vegetable Fairy played by Lili Miller. Yes, I said "Vegetable Fairy". The winged, vegetable clad sprite is Jack's "Fairy Godmother" of sorts.

The all ages production includes a number of musical numbers starting with Peggy Lee's "It's a Good Day" sung by the villagers. Other songs include "High Hopes", "You Are So Beautiful", "Money Makes The World Go 'Round" and "It's A Hard Knock Life" from the musical "Annie".

Two of my favourites were "Anything You Can Do (I can do better)", sung as a duet by Fleshcreep and the Vegetable Fairy; and a hilarious version of "Shall We Dance" from the "King And I", sung by King Satupon, played by Gabe Leury, and Jack's mother Dame Trot, played by Jim Tanner.

Having a male play the female lead and vice versa is a pantomime tradition that is as old as the genre itself and one that is carried on by Tanner and Sherry Legge who plays the lead Jack Trot.

Legge is a panto veteran, having played the male lead in a number of East End Theatre productions in the past including last year's production of "Aladdin" and the 2004 production of "Cinderella".

Legge has one of the strongest voices in theatre and she delivers another solid performance as Jack.

Of special note is the performance of 12-year-old Kirsten Mainwood who plays Princess Melanie. After spending the last five panto productions as a member of the chorus, Mainwood steps into the spotlight with her solo performance of "Smile".

Without a doubt the funniest moment in the play is when Dame Trot, King Satupon, Silly Billy, Clarence Clanger and Sergeant Spic and Corporal Span perform a hilarious version of "If I Were Not Upon This Stage".

Besides the actors mentioned, "Jack and the Beanstalk" also features the talents of Michael Kavcic as Jack's brother Silly Billy; Carly Leury and Cheryl Bateman as Sergeant Spic and Corporal Span; Eric Sauve as the town crier Clarence Clanger; Joshua Clathey as the ghost and Gilles Bellefeuille as the Giant Blunderbore.

The East End Theatre production of "Jack and the Beanstalk" is a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. It is wildly entertaining and fun for the entire family.

Directed by Diane Barnett, "Jack and the Beanstalk" continues at the Shenkman Arts Centre tonight at 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children.


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