Real family fun

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WHAT better antidote to January blues and a plunge in temperatures than a trip to the panto - and, boy, were our spirits lifted!

The traditional tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk”, presented by Burnley Pantomime Society, was dripping with panto humour and packed with slapstick, silliness and songs making it a fun-packed re-telling of the classic fairy tale.

Taking my four-year-old to the panto for the first time was a real treat. He immediately warmed to brothers Jack, played by Gary Leonard, and Simple Simon (Sam Parker). Their cheerful, bright performances were counter-balanced by the “evil” Piccalilli, played with just the right amount of sourness by Kathleen Watkins, and her henchman Rancid The Ratman, played by Kevin Kay. (Plenty of booing and hissing every time they stepped on stage).

The “royal family”, headed by Neil Tranmer as King Hubert and ably assisted by Anglea Foulds (Queen Hyacinth), Laura Chadwick (Princess Primrose) and Stephen Dixon (Humphrey), were demure and regal and witty and silly in equal measure.

But the bulk of comedy came from Dave Pilkington as Dotty Dimples, the traditional panto dame who was more than a few beans short of a can.

Tax collectors Snatchet and Scarper, Wayne Branker and Peter Morville respectively, brought a bundle of energy and fun to the show with their hi-jinks.

And the scenes were seemlessly sewn together by the poetic narration of Fairy Sugardust, played by Tori Green with a bucket-load of bubbliness.

The ubiquitous pantomime cow, Buttermilk, was played expertly by Regan Kerr and Jonathan Pye who even got into the swing of dancing during the finale - no mean feat!

The chorus brought vibrancy to the stage and the dancers were elegant and poised, bringing the necessary amount of dramatic effect to the scenes.

The costumes were bright and befitting and the sets were bold, all adding to the enjoyment of the show.

The musical numbers, especially the Blues Brothers’ classic “Someone to Love” and “I’ve Had The Time of My Life” from “Dirty Dancing”, were excellent and there was so many opportunities for the audience to get involved...even down to who could perform the best “Gangnam Style” dance.

Apart from some timing issues and a couple of occasions when the music overpowered the actors, it was a cracking performance. The only complaint from my son was that he hadn’t seen the giant, but I told him that a giant couldn’t fit into the Mechanics because there were so many people in the audience.

The show, directed by Martin Chadwick with Jonathan Chalker as musical director, was a fantastic way to kick off 2013 and Burnley Pantomime Society’s annual panto will no doubt become a regular date in our social calendar.

“Jack and the Beanstalk” returns to the Burnley Mechanics this weekend from January 17th to 20th. Tickets can be bought by calling the box office on 01282 664400 or visit www.burnleymechanics.co.uk.