Writer and Director: Richard Gauntlett
Musical Director: David Carter
Choreographer: Dee Jago
Reviewer: Lu Greer
Fee fi fo fum – the laughs at the Norwich Theatre Royal have begun. Richard Gauntlett has returned to the theatre once again with a new panto full of giant dresses, day glow sets, and jokes that skip along the line between hilarious and terrible.
While the story of Jack and Beanstalk is well known to audiences, with everyone knowing that there will be a poor family, there will be magic beans, and there will be a giant, very few people would be expecting what they are actually greeted with once the velvet curtains part. In a break from the traditional non-descript village, this year’s panto is nothing short of a hoe down.
The show is headed up by dancer and choreographer Wayne Sleep as Phineas P Stinkworthy, alongside David Burilin as Jack, and Mira Ormala as his finance, Jolene Hiccup, as well as Harriet Bunton as Dolly the Fairy. Indeed, it is Dolly in her Parton-esque performance that for much of the night steals the show, as her vocals bring a bit of the Wild West to proceedings. Richard Gauntlett returns to his role of the dame (Nigella Trottalot) once again, well supported by both comedian Ben Langley as Billy Trottalot, and the exceptional skills of the wardrobe department (Kirsteen Wythe), in his wide range of cowboy themed attire.
Easily the star of this show, while not on all of the billboards around Norwich, is arguably not one of the actors. It is in fact the giant itself. While initially looking rather Monty Python with a massive foot crashing onto the stage, once the giant is revealed there is clearly a massive amount of thought and effort in the design and puppeteering of the beast.
Without as much star power as some pantos around the country to rely on, this show is expected to draw in the crowds based on Richard Gauntlett’s ability as a panto writer, and the general high quality of shows usually associated with the Norwich Theatre Royal. In other years the panto in Norwich has begun to feel rather more formulaic than even a traditional panto. However, this year seems to have ushered out the old, and said howdy to a refreshing change of pace with a new take on the theme, some outstanding costumes, and even a pink cow.
Were there still more than a few bum notes, a lot of fluffed lines (predominantly from our villain) and a few over-used jokes? Of course. But, did one person leave the theatre feeling anything but utterly Christmassy? Oh no, they didn’t.
Runs until 15 January 2017 | Image: Contributed