Review: Jack and the Beanstalk, by the Riverside Players

River side Players production of Jack and the Beanstalk. Ref shs 07 20TI 8232. Picture: Terry Ife

River side Players production of Jack and the Beanstalk. Ref shs 07 20TI 8232. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

In the depths of Newton Poppleford lurked a giant and a beanstalk ...

The story unfolded at the village hall and was ably told by the Riverside Players.

With all the ingredients for a good family panto, this was a gem: a strong cast, wonderful costumes and a very good MD in John Griswold.

Lighting and sound were done well, with Tony Hill and David Jeffery on the button.

Jack and the Beanstalk got off to a cracking start with boos and hisses greeting wicked Wizard Sauerkraut, played by Chris Holland. With a great singing voice, he relished the role and was scolded and kept in place by Fairy Sugardust, charmingly played by Tanya Rees.

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Princess Charlotte (Martha Squire) looked stunning and made a super couple with Jack (Harriet Squire), who looked every inch the thigh-slapping Principal Boy. Their singing was charming and they blended well.

Rancid the Ratman (Tim Alsford) was creepily subservient to both Sauerkraut and the giant, Buster Gutbucket, ably played by Derek Rigby.

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Simple Simon (Florence Squire) had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand with some well-delivered gags.

As Dame Dotty Dimple, Gavin Haines performed with relish and had good comic timing and expressions that everyone enjoyed.

King Crumble (Simon Newell) and Queen Apricot (Juliet Squire) made these roles their own, and I Remember it Well was perfect and endearing.

Humphrey the Equerry was a super part for Paul Kinson. Nathan Wakefield and Abi Bryson as the Broker's Men were perfect, sustaining Scottish accents throughout. Ellen Cox as Buttercup the cow gave a wonderful rendition of Dear Little Buttercup and Martha Cox as the Golden Hen clucked effectively and laid the vital golden egg. Superb support came from Di McKay, who seemed to be in almost every scene.

A strong chorus of six youngsters were a treat to watch - Director 'Tricia Barclay is so good at encouraging children to perform with confidence. The Riverside Players are consistent in offering a traditional pantomime, with local jokes, slapstick and song. Just what the doctor ordered for a chilly dark night in winter.


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