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Friday, January 12, 2024

Llan panto is back with a terrific Jack and the Beanstalk

* The cast belt out one of the opening numbers of Jack and the Beanstalk.

From the seeds of a clever script, a talented cast and some catchy songs the Llangollen Pantomime Group have grown a very healthy version of Jack and the Beanstalk, which opened at the Town Hall last night (Thursday).

And it’s a welcome return for them after a gap of three years due to the pandemic. They're also clearly delighted to be back in the same venue after quite a few years appearing at the Pavilion.

That script, full of cheeky one-liners many of them with local references in the best panto tradition, comes courtesy of Dave Lyne who also provides one of the show’s most endearing characters, Simon, the sweet-natured and fun brother of Jack, finder of the magic seeds which produce the mighty beanstalk.

That talented and versatile cast of 28 also features a panto star in the making in the young shape of Austin Forkin who takes the title role. His capability stretches way beyond his years and he seems certain to appear in more Llangollen productions.

Those songs, most of which have the desired effect of getting the audience clapping and singing along, are backed by a skilful five-piece band including the Belton sisters, Helen and Jayne, along with Stuart Dillon (guitar), James Barber (bass) and Barrie Roberts (drums).

Providing strong support to Jack and Simon are Niki Davies-Bottomley as Simon’s sweetheart Sally and Neil Barrett as town mayor Keddie – there’s one of those local references – and Sue O’Neill as the Fairy Godmother.

Another powerful performance comes from Chris Phillips as Jack and Simon’s mum Mrs McDonald, a true panto harridan with a big heart.

Steve Hughes turns in a towering portrayal of the Giant whose lair the brothers must raid for gold and to free from captivity Alice, played by both Katie Siddall and Frankie Williams, Jack’s love interest.

Sophie Siddall and Jo Potts team up as the perfect baddies, Councillor Rough and Councillor Tumble.

Behind them is a whole bunch of youngsters playing the villagers, farm animals, bluebirds and night time creatures.

And drawing lots of oohs and aahs from the audience are Mya Rees-Jones and Eva Mallinson as Daisy of the Cow.

The show is a credit to director Louise Lyne and her assistant David Lyne, producer Samantha Fletcher and musical director Helen Belton and the rest of the enormous back-stage team who provide the excellent and highly colourful sets and costumes.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs at the Town Hall tonight (Friday) at 7.30pm with two shows tomorrow (Saturday), one of which is the 2pm matinee.

I understand tickets, priced at £9 and £7 concessions, have been selling fast but hopefully you can still book online by scanning the barcode on the poster, by calling the group secretary on 01978 860297, or by calling at Dee Valley Produce (01978 861805).

* Mrs McDonald and Simon.

* The Mayor with the baddie councillors.

* A towering performance from the Giant.

* Jack, Daisy the Cow, Mrs McDonald, Sally and Simon.

* The seeds are handed over to Jack by the disguised Fairy Godmother.

* The Mayor and daughter Sally.

* Simon gets the audience singing along. 

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