KYDS YOUTH DRAMA SECTION
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
Directed by Jon Beales assisted by Dan Carr
Choreography Aaron Owen Bailey & Dan Carr
Performed at the Thurstable School Tiptree

30th November 2013

The hall was packed for the Matinee performance with a lot of children and families all eagerly awaiting the show and the first Panto I have reviewed at this time of the year.
It was a good story line and a large company of young people to perform the show.
The opening number “Shout”was perhaps not the perfect opening, but on Dame Dotty Dimple’s entrance the feel of the production went up with a super performance by Alice Mason with some very good costumes and a positive commitment to the show with great stage presence.

It was very evident the lack of older boys in this production which left most of the principal parts being played by girls.
We are quite used to seeing the leading male character as a girl, but we also had girls in the parts of the King, Simple Simon and Jack.

Good dialogue from Becky Wright as Simple Simon and Abigail Morgan as Rancid the Ratman, and a really feisty Sophie Stocker as Piccalilli the Witch. Sophie had a great rapport with the audience and pulled them all in to hiss and boo at the appropriate times. Peter Greenwood and Matthew Russell as Snatchet and Scarper the brokers men were good together, but more slapstck would have added even more to their characters.

The part of Humphrey played by Ben Collins was a sort of a PR guy for the King & Queen. Nice timing with his lines and a confident feel to his character.
The company did well, and I always look for smiling faces and a feel they are enjoying performing which makes such a difference both to the show and the audiences enjoyment as well.

The stage effects of the beanstalk rising to the top of the stage and general scene changes were good and a mention for the cow Buttermilk played by Pheobe Jowett and ??? in the back end was excellent and very funny.
There was no mention in the programme of the person who was the voice of the Giant? Who was this mysterious man?

A good programme well laid out, and as always plenty of info regarding previous shows and photo’s in the hall which is interesting. Front of house as always were on hand when I arrived with a warm welcome.
The backing tracks were good, but at times too loud against young voices. I can only comment that it is so important to get the balance sorted at dress rehearsal to avoid this. It was encouraging to see so many young people in this production which overall was most enjoyable.

Ann Platten

NORTH ESSEX THEATRE GUILD
SHOWCASE FESTIVAL 2013-14

Group: KYDS Youth Drama Society
Production: Jack & the Beanstalk by Alan P. Frayn
Adjudication Date: Fri November 29 2013
Venue: Thurstable School, Tiptree
Adjudicator: Liz Mullen. This show was also seen by Christine Davidson at another performance.

INTRODUCTION:
Almost December, and KYDS were in truly festive panto mood, with this jolly script as a framework for a feel-good evening (or afternoon) of entertainment that suited their youthful high spirits.

FRONT OF HOUSE:
Very friendly, as always, with a good seat provided and the group’s interesting variety of snacks and drinks available before the show, as well as during the interval, which was much appreciated. A nice glossy programme to browse through, too.

SETTING:
Budget restrictions (or time) seemed to have inhibited the design of the production. It was a shame that there were just three flats representing the village when the tabs opened. We suspect that access to the school hall has much to do with this, but it did take some of the panto magic away.
However, the beanstalk had been created with some thought, and we loved the tendrils along the front of the stage in time for Act Two. Plenty of “clouds” added a bit of a thrill to the action at the top of the beanstalk.

COSTUMES:
Given that Dotty was played by a girl, this was never going to be a traditional grotesque Dame. But the costumes and wigs were very eye catching, whether a purple and primrose confection, a vivid green dazzler or a bright red ensemble for the walkdown! Loved the sleepover gear sported by the whole cast at one point, leaving our dame Dotty looking like a cuddly ladybird.
The Royal parents were in regal purple, the princess looked sweet
of course and Jack and the villagers all seemed appropriately rustic and jaunty. The Giant’s costume – not gruesome enough to scare the tinies, but impressive in size went down well. The cow costume was amusing, while the wicked fairy (with “Wicked”-style green face) looked really great in her spooky black robes.
Humphrey the herald also looked excellent with his pale blue satin uniform, stick and neatly slicked hair.

LIGHTING/SOUND:
Lighting was probably limited by restricted access to the venue, but the tech department still had their moments, with some effective flashes, magical tinkles, comic effects and gigantic roarings.

In some numbers, the sound overwhelmed the weaker vocalists. When mics worked well, they helped the less adept singers greatly.
Well done for the mock commercials played in the interval. Not everyone would have heard them, I suspect, over the burble of the audience.

MUSIC/DANCE:
The choreography wasn’t overcomplicated and thus worked rather well, with some good criss-crossing use of the stage. The enthusiasm of the opening (and closing) number “Shout!” really gave the show a kick.

Other numbers included the zappy “One Way or Another” and “I’m Still Standing” – and it was these energetic songs that worked best.

PERFORMANCES:

JACK:
Emily Mear had a suitable figure for principal boy and acted with sincerity and a sense of adventure. Very much liked the frozen pose at the end of Act One as she prepared to climb the beanstalk. The dragging of the cow, and the milking scene, were very entertaining.

DAME DOTTY DIMPLE:
As mentioned, you can’t have a trad Dame who’s a woman in real life, but leaving that aside, Alice Mason worked her socks off to create and maintain the character. Well done.

SIMPLE SIMON:
Simple indeed! Becky Wright seemed to enjoy playing this foil to sensible Jack. That enjoyment came over to the audience who were on “his” side. Becky’s participation in the milking scene and the hauling along of stubborn Buttermilk was good, too.

FAIRY:
Hampered potentially by having to clamber up steps for her entrances, Amy Curtis maintained her calm and concentration. We would have liked to hear her much better, though.

BUTTERMILK:
The cow was given character by Lucy Greed and Phoebe Jowett, whose double act
added considerably to the evening’s fun.

SNATCHET & SCARPER:
Matthew Russell and the ever-confident Peter Greenwood played what’s traditionally known as The Broker’s Men (or possibly just a pair of idiotic baddies!). Their banter and slapstick were good-natured and had the children laughing.

KING & QUEEN:
This pair didn’t have too much to challenge them as tends to happen with these roles, but they made the most of what they had.

Lucy Stephenson had a regal posture as the King and worked well with her Queen. Lucy also caused amusement in the slapstick bakery scene especially with the kingly crown worn over her baker’s hat.
As the Queen, Ellie Russell developed a very royal pronunciation and attitude, which I liked.

PRINCESS:
Daisy Greenwood made a charming little princess and she performed with sincerity towards her “boyfriend.” I enjoyed the “Feel” duet.

HUMPHREY:
Good work!! As the smartly-clad herald, Ben Collins was pompous, lively and very confident. He made a great rock n’ roll host at the fair, and put the song over well.

WITCH:

Sophie Stocker not only looked amazing, she acted to match it. Plenty of professional attitude and confidence and we heard every word. Sophie has a good stage presence and this was a notable performance.

RANCID:
Rancid by name and rancid by nature, this unpleasant creature was made wonderfully watchable by Abigail Morgan’s wryly confident portrayal. One memorable moment a very knowing look at the audience.

GIANT:
Not yet a giant in real life, Matthew Greed lent stature to the ogre simply with a powerful, amplified voice. Good fun.

SUPPORTING COMPANY:

Good work from the villagers and all other characters plenty of talent for the future.

DIRECTION:
This is one of the best Kyds productions I have seen, and I commend director Jon Beales for instilling a good pace to the show.
Although I wouldn’t have had the Fairy, of all people, having to enter up steps each time, most of the original blocking was well done. There were some funny set-pieces (my favourite being the stubborn cow) and some promising performances.

Thank you for the hospitality and the fun.
Best wishes
Liz Mullen
Adjudicator