Jack & the Beanstalk
Witch Whey's wicked wheeze won't work - will it?
A pantomime written in a traditional style, but at the same time refreshingly different, Jack & the Beanstalk treats your cast to some well made characters and dialogue, and conspires to involve your audience to the maximum.
There is the inevitable beanstalk, but the Giant isn't the Baddie of this show, nor is he actually a giant. Add to that a magical Harp which turns into a hang-glider for our heroes to escape, and you have the ingredients for an intriguing story.
There are many opportunities for song and dance, including over 20 suggested titles, and plenty of scope for including an undefined number of senior and junior chorus members in the show.
Principals: Male 9, Female 6, Indeterminate 2
© John Owen Smith 1991
This pantomime uses three different full set scenes, separated by half set or front of curtain scenes to allow for backstage activity. Directions given are those used in the original production, but use your imagination according to the facilities available to you.
A list of songs used in the original production is included for your guidance, but feel free to adapt or adopt your own as required.
The concept of the Community Song is where the audience is invited to come up on the stage to help out, and some sort of raucous competition ensues between those brave enough to come up and those left sitting in the auditorium. ("Invited" is perhaps a little inaccurate on occasions, when members of the cast go down in search of friends and other victims!). The positioning of this event just before the final scene also gives people not involved plenty of time to change into their finery for the Walkdown.
I used the general convention that immortals, in this case the Tree Elves, the Witch and the Wizard, speak in rhyme and the mortals in prose, and I have introduced the concept of a Prologue and an Interlogue (no, the latter is not in the dictionary) as much as anything to give time for the chorus to react to the fact that the show has started, and actually get on stage! This is known as pragmatism.
So good luck with your show. Put in local variations as you wish, and if you think you can improve on the verse then do that too! Have fun - otherwise, why do it?
In a change from Dramsoc's usual type of production, Wednesday 19th to Saturday 22nd January  saw their first ever pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.
The tone of the evening's entertainment was set when instead of the usual announcement to turn off mobile phones as the play began, the rapping Wizard Wheeze (Iain Heaton) walked across stage with a ringing mobile and was chased off by two gun brandishing "heavies", Been and Dunnit (Sam Richards and Richard Chatwin) shouting "No Mobile Phones!", "Take Him Down!" etc. Following this promising warm up the pantomime began.
The script, originally written by Jo Smith and adapted by the Director Tom Cafferkey, was a typical pantomime script with all the usual cringe-worthy jokes and lots of "Oh no he didn't!", "Oh yes he did!" and "He's behind you!" moments but also some much more original aspects such as the aforementioned rapping Wizard Wheeze. There were also several "in-jokes" aimed specifically at an Imperial College audience and much use of shaving foam pies. This all worked extremely well and the audience appeared to be participating well and getting in to the spirit of the pantomime.
The pantomime contained some excellent comic acting, particularly from Siegfried Hodgson as the pantomime dame, the Widow English, who wore a pair of silver (very) high heels on stage for the entire performance and successfully carried off the mannerisms and behaviour necessary to a pantomime dame.
There were also some exceptional baddies (because a pantomime needs a good baddy) in the form of the Brooke Milburn as the Witch Whey and Iain Heaton as both Squire Maguire (who is trying to evict the widow from her house) and Detergiant (the captain of the Giants' Guard).
Other good performances were the principal boy, Jack (Charlotte Coales), Princess Penelope (Lilly Topham) and Mr and Mrs Giant (Andre Refig and Helene Ganichaud) and of course Annabelle the cow, played on the night this reporter saw the pantomime by a stand in (Tanya Knowles) following the unavailability of the actor cast in this role.
The show's producer (Ceris Austyn-Prys) was also to be seen on the stage as a fourth beanstalk elf and a villager. Her performance as Gertie, the Goose who laid the golden egg, was very convincing.
Usually a pantomime contains a lot of singing and dancing, in this case however there was only one song. Given the appalling standard of singing and dancing in that song (even allowing for some of the cast singing and dancing "in character") that was probably a good thing! There was however good use of recorded music at various points in the pantomime.
The technical side of a pantomime is generally expected to be extensive and this one was no exception, involving full use of the Concert Hall with flying, trap doors and pyrotechnics. There were a couple of slight mishaps the evening this reporter went to see the performance, when some of the pyrotechnics misfired and some scenery wasn't flown out before the lights went up on the next scene, but these were minor things by comparison with the whole. They were generally covered by good ad-libbing on the part of the cast, particularly by Richard Jordon as Simple Simon.
The pantomime was a great success and the Director Tom Cafferkey and the Producer Ceris Austyn-Prys and all their Production Team are to be praised.
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