Who doesn’t love a panto? The great British tradition of attending a pantomime during the Christmas season is now one of our family’s festive must-dos. We were lucky enough to be invited to the Mercury theatre in the historic town of Colchester, Essex last week to watch their production of Jack and the Beanstalk, and it was fantastic!
I have very fond memories of the Mercury Theatre, having seen several pantomines there as a child myself, and we saw their production of Babe, The Sheep-Pig earlier in the year, which the kids and I loved! So we were very pleased to be travelling back to this lovely intimate theatre, where wherever you sit you have a good view of the stage and feel part of the show.
The pantomine did not dissapoint! It had all the elements that a panto should have. Great songs and dance, colourful set and scenary, talented cast, sparkly colourful costumes, comedy, slapstick, a pantomine dame, references to popular culture, audience participation, innuendos and of course a pantomine villian to boo and hiss throughout the show.
Without giving too much away (cause you really do need to go and see it!), the story is a take on the classic fairytale of Jack and the Beanstalk. The town of Olde England is at the mercy of a giant in the skies and his greedy evil right hand man Fleshcreep (booooo-hissss). Forced to sell the family’s only reminaing cow, Jack Trott swaps their cow for some magical beans. The following morning the beans have grown into a ginormous beanstalk, and Jack vows to be the hero he always thought he could be and save the town, rescue the princess and defeat the giant.
Probably sounds just like your average panto, right? But it was so much more than that. Where else can you see flossing storm troopers, rapping cows, and an auditorium full of adults and kids doing the baby shark? The kids LOVED it and I can honestly say that it’s the best panto I’ve seen.
The kids immediately got into to the audience participtaion. Lots of booing and hissing at Fleshcreep, and plenty of opportuity to shout ‘He’s behind you’ and ‘Oh yes it is!’ They particularly liked the cow charcter Daisy or Day-Z as the urban cow preferred, and if he genuinely had an insta account I think we would all be his ‘herdies’.
The pantomine dame, Dotty Trott was just the best. The inuendos were quite close to the mark, but hiliarious, as were the off the cuff one liners and replies to audience heckles. The interaction with the audience was light hearted, but funny. In fact I laughed so hard and was grinning throughout the show that my cheekbones ached.
The quailty of the performances from all the actors was amazing. Pitch perfect on the songs, and step perfect on the dances. Lots of well rehersed scripted play with intejects of some slap stick and ad libbing. I was in histerics when the fairy god mother in training broke her wand. At first I thought it was a planned part of the performance, until she was creasing up herself. And when the king took a tumble I don’t think a single person on stage or in the auditorium was not beside themselves with laughter.
The songs themself were versions of well known songs from past and present, which really helped the kids engage. My particular favourite moment was when they did their rendition of ‘A Million Dreams’ from The Greatest Showman. Practically all the children (and a lot of adults too) were singing along. It sounded so amazing with little voices all around joining in including my two at the top of their voices, I actual felt a quite emotional.
I also loved the reference to pop culture, modern games and tv shows and films that were all familiar to the kids and helped with their enaggemnet and enjoyment. Oliver practically jumped out of his seat when a storm trooper came on stage. Seeing their little faces light up, and their enjoyment was just magical.
All in all we thought it was a fantastic pantomine at a fantastic theatre, and honestly I can’t fault it. The show was over 2 1/2 hours long but went so quickly, and we all came away smiling and talking about our favourite characters and parts. The kids are still syaing ‘bump the rump’ and singing the ‘Ice Cream Freeze’, to the point where it is starting to get a bit annoying now!!
If you are planning on going to a pantomine this Christmas, then this is a magical, colourful entertaining show that is great one for all the family to enjoy, and not to be missed! We would all highly recommend it, and will definitely be booking up next year.
Jack and the Beanstalk is on till the 20th January, but the tickets are selling fast and have sold out already on several of the shows. To find out more and to book tickets, visit the Mecury Theatres website.
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Disclaimer: We were gifted the tickets to see Jack and the Beanstalk at the Mercury Theatre for the purpose of this review. However, all words and opinions (as always) are my own.