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With a fabulous set, stunning costumes, bags of comedy, amazing special effects and audience participation a-plenty, Jack and the Beanstalk has something that the whole family will love.
The star studded cast this year includes Oliver Mellor as Fleshcreep. Best known for his appearances in Coronation Street as Dr Matt Carter, Oliver has also appeared in other popular TV shows including Cold Feet, Eastenders, Emmerdale, Doctor Who and The Royal.
Back by popular demand is Carl Dutfield as Jack. He brought the house down last year as Buttons in Cinderella. His comedy routines and performances had audiences laughing well into the New Year.
Also starring West End star Michelle Whitney as The Fairy, From Channel 4’s Gameface Spencer K Gibbins as King Crumble, Chloe Barlow as Princess Jill and the Hilarious Tim Ames as Dame Trott.
With a fabulous set, stunning costumes, bags of comedy, amazing special effects and audience participation a-plenty, Jack and the Beanstalk has something that the whole family will love at The Place, Telford this Christmas.
Back by popular demand is Carl Dutfield as Jack. He brought the house down last year as Buttons in Cinderella and the Hilarious Tim Ames as Dame Trott.
What's On caught up with the stars ahead of the show's run...
Carl Dutfield returns to The Place to take on the role of Jack
You’re back by popular demand, how does it feels to be returning this year?
It’s really good actually. I played Buttons last year and I loved it. They wanted me back as a comedy character again this year, so they decided to mix the two roles together, so I am Jack and the comedy character. It’s quite an honour for them to not only want me back, but for them to also give me the two roles.
As a performer, what attracts you to panto?
I really enjoy being an idiot. That’s why I like being the comedy character because I am an idiot myself. I like to be the joker, I play practical jokes all the time so for me to do it on stage, it’s not even acting. It’s just me. I just get to be myself on stage all the time.
Do you have a favourite panto from when you were a child?
I never went to any pantomimes as a kid. The earliest memory I’ve got was when I did my first pantomime, when I was working for a British holiday company and I was understudy Jack. So I’ve gone full circle in the 13 years of entertainment, and now I’m back as Jack in a theatre.
Coronation Street's Oliver Mellor plays the role of Fleshcreep
Tell us more about your role...
This year I am playing Fleshcreep, so I am the bad guy. It’s a nice opportunity for me to do something different. I’ve done quite a few pantos now and I’ve played the nice guy, Peter Pan, the Prince, the Beast, so it’s a really nice opportunity for me to show a different side. It’s always good fun playing the bad guy.
There’s a lot of audience interaction isn’t there when you’re the bad guy...
Yeah, if they’re not booing loud, then you’re not doing your job. There’s a lot of fun and joy in panto but I’m looking forward to doing something a bit darker.
As a performer, what attracts you to pantomime?
It’s seeing the reactions from both sides of the audience, from the kids and from the adults. Watching the amazement and awe from the kids when they look at the visuals, the humour, when they’re scared, when they’re booing or when they’re screaming. Then you get to also bring out the humour that goes over their heads but hits the adults and makes them laugh. It’s a real joy.
Tim Ames plays Dame Trott
What do you like the most about being a dame in panto?
It is the fact that you can be slightly cheeky to people, but not as yourself. You can say things as a dame that you wouldn’t neccessarily say yourself, well, without getting punched.
What are you looking forward to the most with Jack and the Beanstalk?
Everything - I just love the whole buzz of panto. I love turning up to rehearsals and I love watching the show coming together. Then going out and playing it to audiences, it’s a magical experience. I loved panto as a kid, and I love it now.
Why do you think panto is still so popular?
It’s so uniquely British, and it’s part of that Christmas tradition for so many families. I don’t think its Christmas without panto. It just works on so many levels, kids can enjoy it, adults can enjoy it, it’s just great.
Jack and the Beanstalk shows at The Place, Telford from Wednesday 11 December - Sunday 5 January, you can book your tickets at theplacetelford.com
Jack & the Beanstalk is the panto of choice at The Place, Telford this festive season - and it’s a Christmas cracker of a show… oh yes it is!
The Place’s pantomimes are old school - and that’s exactly what we like! Why change a winning formula? Recognisable routines and old favourites are rife, including searching for (and failing to find) various ghosties and ghoulies, singing Old Dame Trotty with animal sound effects from specially chosen youngsters and, of course, not forgetting the dame’s yearly search for a boyfriend amongst the terrified men in the audience.
Pop songs rehashed in proper panto style also punctuated Jack’s tale. My favourite being a lovely rendition of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s famous ‘Ain’t No Beanstalk High Enough’ from Jack (Carl Dutfield) and the ensemble.
After wowing the audience as Buttons in last year’s pantomime Cinderella, Carl Dutfield is back by popular demand - and this year he’s taking on the title role instead. It was a stroke of genius by Shone Productions to make Jack both the comedy character and the pseudo-Prince, which made Dutfield the hero for both the story and the audience. It’s refreshing to see a panto lead cast for their performance prowess, humour and voice, rather than just their looks and relative fame, as is the case in some commercial pantomimes.
Dame Trott (Tim Ames)’s costumes are as outrageous and humorous as usual, perfectly matching her mischievous ways. I was particularly fond of her cupcake outfit, with the cherries crowning her cupcake bra perfectly placed to get a few titters and wide eyes from the audience. Tim Ames is a fabulous, traditional dame with punchy one-liners and even better improv.
Princess Jill (Chloe Barlow) and King Crumble (Channel 4’s Gameface Spencer K Gibbins) fell prey to pantomime’s overacting epidemic. But that’s all part of the fun and the cast even joke about it during the show...pantomime is nothing if not-self aware!
West End star Michelle Whitney’s interjections as The Fairy were also well received - the audience loves to guess what rhyming couplet is coming next. Plus Whitney’s singing voice is to die for!
My favourite performance, however, came from Oliver Mellor as Fleshcreep. The character certainly lived up to his name and was hit by a wall of boos on every entrance to the stage. Mellor didn’t drop his characterisation for even a second, maintaining Fleshcreep’s serpentine mannerisms throughout and making for the perfect creepy, yet pathetic, villain.
All design for set and costuming way impressive to say the least, keeping the audience mesmerised by the action, and complete with a flying car, a temperamental inflatable beanstalk and the mascot-esque Daisy the Cow and Giant costumes. This production of Jack & the Beanstalk is as eye catching as it is a whole heap of fun for all the family.
Jack & the Beanstalk is one of the nation’s favourite pantos and The Place have done that justice: it’s the perfect way to celebrate 20 years of pantomime in Telford.
Jack & the Beanstalk runs at The Place, Telford until Sunday 5 January.
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