Photo – Andy Sapey
The Garage is building an enviable reputation for their Christmas Pantos aimed at the youngest theatregoers and their family. The latest in their ‘My First Panto’ series has a peak Norwich title: Jack and the Beansprout. The classic tale is retold in a child-friendly and participatory manner by an energetic three-strong cast with lots of music and a charming colourful set with a few surprises.
There are both formal seats and a lot of cushions scattered all around the performing area for children (and the adults they are responsible for) to find a place where they are comfortable. Jack is played with open-eyed enthusiasm by Rob Gathercole, who also directs the music in the show. Instruments used include a guitar, ukulele, muted trumpet, harp and a rather magnificent double bass that gets wheeled around the room as needed. Jack’s Mum is played by Jack Blakey, who being quite a big lad, fills out the colourful dame’s frock amply. He has the piercing voice sometimes needed to keep young Jack out of trouble, although his singing voice is quite appropriately not that different from a ‘slummockin greart mawther’ that you might encounter in a rural Norfolk pub after her sixth pint of cider. Completing the cast along with the hapless and the hopeless is the magical Fairy Godmother, played by Celeste Collier, giving the role a relentlessly cheerful if sometimes rather naughty personality.
Two other creatures share the stage – no Jack Panto would be complete without Daisy the cow and there is a rather snappy Goose that lays the golden eggs and gets a bit nippy when little fingers stray too close to her beak. Needless to say the younger audience members cannot get enough of her beak.
The three cast members all relate well to the children and give a great performance with songs, jokes and plenty of action. The show is aimed at children but professionally presented by Director Daniel Burgess.
The junior critics (all under five) who were at the same performance as me will I am sure have given this show a top rating – they had a great time with lots to do and lots happening all around them. The show is kept at a manageable length and sometimes even the adults are allowed to join in with the play – if they wish. This is a happy and cheerful show that should instil a love for live theatre in the youngest of audiences, but is also great fun for those of us whose play school years are just a memory now. We give this one five Golden Egg rating!
This show will be the perfect antidote to a stressful episode of Christmas shopping and there will be dozens of performances right up until 5th January with shows starting at 10.15, 1.15 and 3.15. Please check the times with the box office. There will be special relaxed, signed and audio described to cater for every need. The Garage is a pleasant and safe venue with a rather nice cafe for before and after-show nibbles and drinks.
© Julian Swainson 2018
Jack and The Beansprout – My First Panto from 30th November to 5th January. Bookings: 01603 598646 or the http://garage.org.uk. For relaxed performances please contact The Garage directly on 01603 283382