Dear Mummy, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a good panto for us. In Hampshire we are spoilt for choice when it comes to great theatres. Even though I don’t visit as often as I’d like we always make time for the pantomime. It’s a great way to kick off the festive season.
This year we were invited back to Princes Hall in Aldershot to see their adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk. I love how they brought this traditional children’s story to life. As soon as we walked through the doors at Princes Hall we knew that something was different, there was a GIANT in the foyer! Big tall legs and boots made the perfect backdrop for family photographs and was a great way to generate excitement for the show.
As always, staff were friendly directing us to our seats as we joined a full house of families and groups flicking through their programmes. The performance was led by ‘Flora’ the Fairy and we followed Jack and the cast on a wonderful rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk for 2 hours with a 20 minute interval. I couldn’t believe that I had been on that stage earlier in the year with my Stagecoach friends.
The story is simple for us kids to understand. Jack gets tricked into selling the beloved family cow, for magic beans as he is in desperate need for money to save his house from Fleshcreep, the giants evil brother. He soon discovers that his magic beans open up an unexpected world leading into the clouds! Jack scales the beanstalk, closely followed by his dotty mum Dame Trott, and brother Silly Billy to save Jack’s one true love Rose, outwit the Giant and save the town.
Without giving too much away we loved this twist on the story and even though Jack is the main character he wasn’t the main focus of the show with the whole cast getting their time in the spotlight. Everyone had a part to play with Fleshcreep getting the majority of the boos and Silly Billy along with Dame Trott getting the belly laughs.
As ever, the Princes Hall pantomime cast was made up of a talented ensemble of actors, all returning from previous Princes Hall shows. These included the unforgettable Donovan Christian Cary as Dame Trott, producer and director Robert Hopkins as Silly Billy, Rachel Lea-Gray as the heroine Rose, Bryn Lucas as Jack, Tom Capper as Fleshcreep, Samuel Wright as the mayor and giant (not at the same time!) and Kluane Saunders as Fairy Flora.
A special mention to Daisy the Cow as I love a good pantomine animal! We couldn’t believe that Jack and the Beanstalk marked Robert Hopkin’s 26th consecutive pantomime at the venue as producer and director. It’s clearly winning formula that brings a lot of the audience back year after year. People traveled far and wide (some even from Australia) to see the show. Large groups of families, brownies, dance clubs and even a hen party made this a show suitable for all ages!
There was plenty of slapstick comedy, without the smutiness and political jokes which was refreshing. Again we saw some of the best dancing we’ve EVER seen in a local panto. The dance troop never fail to disappoint and they did an amazing job which had the audience wowed. The scenery, clever stage sets and costumes made the story come alive and the huge beanstalk rise!
Special mention to the giant as he was amazing and moved around the stage with such life-like abilities that had my mummy rubbing her eyes in disbelief. I on the other hand was out of my seat cheering, booing, dancing and clapping frantically. You really have to see it to believe it.
Looking around at the audience this year there were nothing but wide smiles, wide eyes and crying laughter during the rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas. All we can say is that Fleshcreep (Tom Capper) must be fit with all the running around he did! There were a number of occasions where I literally couldn’t stay in my seat I was so engrossed in the performance. In fact I was actively encouraged to jump around and the show was so immersive that at one point I just wanted to get on stage and join in! I guess we’ll have to do it again….next year, won’t we, whoo!
What makes Panto at Aldershot so endearing is that you can tell the cast are having fun. The fun is infectious and you can’t help but smile along! Every year Princes Hall help raise money for The Rock and Pop Foundation and it’s great to see a community theatre that keeps on giving well after Christmas. Tickets are already selling fast, so do not miss out! Call the Box Office on 01252 329 155 or visit http://www.princeshall.com to book or reserve your seats. Thank you Princes Hall Theatre and all the team there.
Love Bella x
Disclosure: We were invited to see the performance in order to review. All smiles, giggles, dancing jigs and hand clapping were our own.