Jack and the Beanstalk, Colne Muni

The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk
The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk

Christmas may be just a happy memory now, but the festive fun continues with a capital F in Colne for the next two weeks. Yes, it's panto time as Jack and his magic Beanstalk and all his friends are in town bringing traditional entertainment that never ceases to please.

All ages just love the slapstick of panto and the audience in Colne for last Saturday afternoon's opening show was no exception. Mums, dads, children and grandparents all joined in the fun as the laughs kept on coming as the show kicked into gear.

George Critchley, for PMA Productions Ltd, is making his annual trip to East Lancashire with his version of "Jack and The Beanstalk" which has an unusual opening with a scene featuring Vikings. It was good fun but I did think I was in the wrong panto until it clicked into gear introducing the whole cast, not forgetting Daisy the cow, some magic beans, a never-ending beanstalk and a (sometimes) ferocious giant.

Show writer, producer and director George Critchley is cast as funny man Silly Billy, but in this matinee performance the role was played very energetically by Karl Greenwood, who is a very very silly Billy as he prances about the stage cracking jokes and endearing himself to the audience. He has become a panto regular in Colne and you cannot help but love his enthusiasm.

His panto mum is another regular, professional actor Keith De' Winter, direct from his role as Goss Toowers in "Star Wars; the Force Awakens", who plays Dame Dolly Dimplebottom. With her extensive wardrobe of bloomers, crazy outfits and outlandish wigs as daft as her name, Dame Dolly dazzles and jokes her way through the story of her son Jack. When the family falls on hard times he sells the family cow Daisy for what he believes is a bag of gold, but is actually a bag of beans that grow into a beanstalk that they climb to find the magic kingdom of the Giant.

Jack is played by Joshua Dowen who has a lovely singing voice that I would have liked to have heard more of, maybe in a solo number. His love interest Princess Jill is played by Nikki Horsburgh whose Scots accent rather fools the dozy giant who usually only smells the blood of Englishmen (or women). An original twist to this traditional tale that continues until good conquers evil and a wedding brings it to a happy and colourful ending.

We saw Shorell Hepkin as the Fairy in "Sleeping Beauty" in 2015 and she pops up in this panto as a delicious Fairy Cupcake. Ricardo Castro plays a ridiculously camp and over the top King, as well as the Giant, and last but definitely not least is Darren John Langford, who steals the show as the baddie Fleshcreep. What a devilish baddie he is, full of traditional evil but with a modern twist. He is very believeable and judging by the number of boos he received, the audience loved him. He told the audience that "baddies love boos", so everyone was happy.

This panto, with its full professional cast, has everything that we come to expect of this festive-time-of-year entertainment, and more. It is full of fun, has some great musical numbers, lots of jokes, slapstick scenes and just about everything that you could wish for in panto. You might also recognise some local faces from the East Lancashire School of Dance and Pendle Academy of Dance and Performing Arts who danced beautifully to bring the chorus numbers to life.

If you love panto this is one not to miss. If you have never seen panto you are missing a treat. "Jack and the Beanstalk" continues at Colne Muni in Albert Road until January 22nd, with matinee and evening performances. Call the box office on 01282 661234 for tickets.

"Jack and the Beanstalk", Colne Muni, January 7th to 22nd. Box Office 01282 661234