Until 2018 I was a Theatr Clwyd Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto virgin! However, after attending Dick Whittington: The Puuurfect Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto last year I knew I would be spending at least one night a year with this fantastical, festive phenomenon! This year the classic tale getting the Theatr Clwyd treatment was Jack and the Beanstalk.
Upon entering the auditorium, we are greeted almost immediately with characters from the production mingling in the audience the interacting with the children as well as a never-ending stream of bubbles from the ceiling; and you’re never too old to enjoy bubbles! It isn’t clear whether this is the usual routine or whether the cast are, very effectively, covering the fact that the majority of the audience begin coming in after the 7pm start time (with evening productions generally starting at 7.30pm there is perhaps some confusion).
I adore the uniqueness of Theatr Clwyd’s pantomimes and this production is no exception; the small cast provide consistently strong vocals, fabulous harmonies and simple but effective choreography (without the need for a gaggle of ‘theatre kids’ in the background!) The cast all work so hard; darting between costumes changes to play the drums, guitar, keyboards etc. It is also extremely refreshing to hear constant use of the Welsh language throughout the show as well as references to the local area. The costumes are again a sight to behold; well thought out and often traditional but with hints of punk rock! Special mention must go to Dame Tegwen Trott’s wonderful array of dresses and headgear; the detail impeccable!
The set design is inspiring, particularly the magical moment in which the beanstalk appears through a trap door in the centre of the stage, slowly, as if growing. The beanstalk is designed around a ladder, which allows the characters to actually ‘climb the beanstalk’ into the clouds! This, for me, is what theatre is all about; where something happens on stage that gives you goosebumps and, even as an adult, almost makes you believe the impossible is possible! I was also curious as to how the giant would be portrayed. This is done very simply with the use of a voice over and the odd appearance of ‘parts’ of the character; the projection of a moving eye for example. This is all that’s needed to make the audience imagine that there really is a giant at the top of the beanstalk!
This production includes a superb cast with phenomenal vocals, wonderful musicianship and a brilliant repertoire of songs including I love Rock ‘n’ Roll, Thinking Out Loud and Material Girl! All of the cast members are truly fantastic in their own right but I feel I must single out Phylip Harries, Theatr Clwyd’s long running Dame, and I must say, the best Dame this side of Rhyl (!!!) and Ben Locke as Tommy Trott who just oozed theatricality; once on stage you can’t help but be drawn to his comedic facial expressions and hilarious reactions.
Da iawn Theatr Clwyd on another ‘ardderchog’ production!
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
November 22nd 2019-January 18th 2020
Writer: Chris Patterson
Director: Zoë Waterman
Resident Assistant Director: Eleri B Jones
Casting: Kay Magson CDG
Design: Adrian Gee
Musical Director: Tayo Akinbode
Choreographer: Will Tuckett
Technical: Mark Howland, Matthew Williams, Alec Reece, Edward Salt, Cassey Driver
Cast includes: Adam Barlow, Katie-Elin-Salt, Phylip Harries, Jessica Jolleys, Ben Locke, Alice McKenna, Peter Mooney, Elin Phillips, Lynwen Haf Roberts, Luke Thornton
Running time: Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes (inc. interval)