A Beanstalk of Wonder
Click on the photographs to enlarge them - all photographs courtesy of Hethersett Pantomime Group. Reproduced with permission.
When it comes to pantomime Hethersett are in the Premier League
Jack and the Beanstalk was the 47th village panto in a long line running back to its humble beginnings in 1970. The 2016 production was one of the best and certainly one of the most colourful with a first rate cast singing, dancing and clowning its way through the well known plot.
Over the period of a month before and after Christmas, Hethersett Pantomime Group was featured in an exhibition and film show at Norwich Forum. Hethersett was heralded alongside Thetford for keeping the pantomime tradition going in Norfolk. The latest offering illustrates that not only is the tradition being kept alive, but it is being improved and extended. This Jack and the Beanstalk is an intertwining of the traditional story with local twists and jokes.
The back stage crew is often overlooked in productions but first mention in this review must go to the set designers under the direction of Colin Wilson. Their backdrops were more numerous and more colourful than ever and are an art form in their own right.
At times Hethersett's Jack and the Beanstalk bordered on the surreal with some crazy dancing and high in the sky antics. Once again the production was written and produced by Lloyd Parfitt who also played the part of Simple Simon with his usual fun and timing. Director Sarah Wright also found time to take the part of Betty, one of the cooks.
Lewis Cook was his usual handsome self as Jack and much of the humour was injected, as always, by Neville Greenhalgh as Dame Trott and Barry Foster as Baron Hardheart. Both are veterans of the Hethersett pantomime scene and as skilled in ad libs and asides as they are at delivering the actual script.
The good fairy of Emily Spencer and Witch of Vicki Gale were charming and menacing and Lauren Ellero was striking as Alice. Sadly her beautiful voice had only the one solo to perform. More comedy was injected by two other Hethersett panto stalwarts Rachel Woodier as Rough and Kate Rowe as Ready. Steve Bussey played the part of the giant to perfection and the return of a pantomime animal in the shape of Daisy the Cow added more fun thanks to the skill of Andrea Farrow and Will Bussey. Sue Tuckwood as Beryl, Jono Angelo as the King of Cloud Land and Tina Greenhalgh as the Queen of Cloud Land added to the frivolity and there were the usual assortment of colourful villagers, cloudies and young sprites. A word too for the band under the direction of Tony Press. They never missed a beat all evening.
Over the years Hethersett Pantomime has also raised thousands of pounds for charity and this year's leaving bucket collection was taken for the RNLI.