Oh yes it IS that time of year again! Panto time, and where better to experience it than Theatr Clwyd’s respected Rock’n’Roll Panto.
What sets these productions apart from competitors is the investment in quality actors who can also sing and play multiple instruments, supported by a world-class production team who produce sets and costumes to die for.
As soon as the audience began to wander into the theatre and settle in, we were already drawn into the fun of the evening with bubbles drifting over our heads, cloud lights above us and cast members interacting with us.
The first few moments were slightly flat but this gave me ample opportunity to admire the costumes which were an artful mishmash of gingham, checks and tartans that all tied in together.
Immediately the first song starts, we’re away….and immediately Phylip Harries makes his entrance as Dame Tegwen Trott, we’re really away! Tegwen arrives in a scooter modified into a majestic dragon chariot and as her classic line says, “lookin’ lush luuurv!” Harries really is an excellent Dame: he gurns, he flashes his bloomers, he speaks Welsh, he delivers jokes galore and can be relied on to steer any scenes necessary. For instance he and a very game audience member from Flint called Danny keep everyone entertained while the rest of the cast don their finest wedding regalia for the final scene.
Christian Patterson’s second script for the long running rock’n’roll pantos is another good one. Different jokes land differently for different people. I personally could have lost the fart noises and ‘who, what, I don’t know’ sequence but a friend I know loved it. Other jokes I was the only one in my immediate vicinity laughing out loud at, but at least 90 per cent of the wisecracks worked for everyone.
The song choices were all spot on, from classics like I Put a Spell on You, Under Pressure and I’m Every Woman to more contemporary hits such as Shotgun and Thinking Out Loud.
As usual Tegwen Trott’s costumes got better and more imaginative with each change, culminating in a spectacular gown. I also loved Poison Ivy and Fairy Daffodil’s costumes.
I really enjoyed Ben Locke’s performance as Tommy Trott, Jack’s loveable brother – his timing, facial expressions and physical comedy were impeccable. His character’s innocence was used to make a few jokes at the Tory party’s expense all the more effective.
Coronation Street star Adam Barlow was great fun as Squire Simon Stinker whose hover board antics were a joy and his rendition of I’m Slim Shady was excellent.
Peter Mooney as Jack made a much better impression on me this year than last, and the pleasant pheasant plucker scene between him, Locke and Harries really was testament to their skills!
Panto regular Luke Thornton made an excellent pairing with Elin Phillips, who were Shake and Vac, and Jessica Jolley made a respectable debut as Jill – I loved the beautiful tone of her singing voice.
As has been the case for the last few rock ’n’ roll pantos, while the entire cast’s singing voices are strong, the female cast members excel in this regard with honourable mentions for Katie Elin-Salt, Jessica Jolleys, Lynwen Haf Roberts, Elin Phillips and Alice McKenna. The latter played a rather charming Scouse Harp, Hattie.
The set was beautiful with trapdoors, balconies and animal puppets used to add depth and fun, and the beanstalk really was something to behold.
Jack and the Beanstalk is a joyous experience performed by a dedicated cast who go above and beyond to make sure the audience is enthralled from start to finish. Do go and see it – you won’t be sorry.
Jack and the Beanstalk The Rock and Roll Panto is at Theatr Clwyd until January 18.