It’s not Christmas until you’ve seen a panto at The Torch!

Having not been to the Torch Theatre for a long time (maybe a year?) I was pleased to be asked to review this year’s pantomime on Saturday, Jack and the Beanstalk, directed by Peter Doran.

I still get the excitement that I used to upon entering the Torch Theatre. I love sitting in a dark auditorium full of people, enjoying a play, film, or in this case, a panto!

I arrived at the Torch with my niece Sophie, aged 9, my nephew Dylan, aged 12, and my mother-in-law Jill (we won’t say how old she is!). Esme stayed at home with Al, because we thought she would be a bit too little to be able to sit through an entire panto, and Al didn’t quite fancy a panto anyway!

Pre-panto selfie!

Pre-panto selfie!

We grabbed our tickets at the box office, and went upstairs to the bar, of course. We were served by one of my longest friends, and chatted about old school days (as you do), and how we used to mess about in Welsh lessons.

Sophie had a coke, Dylan had a J2O, and Jill and I had a glass of wine before the show started. We took a pre-panto selfie, and went in after the call for people to get to our seats.

We sat down and were faced with a blue stage, with a moving picture of clouds projected onto a gauze, covering the set behind. Once the house lights went down, a beautiful fairy, with purple hair, a sparkly pink dress and striped tights greeted us, played by Emma Hirons.

The beautiful fairy, introducing us to the show!

The beautiful fairy, introducing us to the show!

She waved her not-so-magic wand, and spoke to us in rhyming couplets with a gag here and there to start us off. Her Liverpudlian (I think) accent, which sounded genuine, was really nice to hear, and added to her character! She had a lovely smile, and introduced us to the pantomime perfectly.

Once she had left and the gauze had come up, we were faced with Jack’s house, where he lives with his mother, Dame Trott (Dion Davies). Before having met any of the other characters, Dion’s familiar voice, sporting his fantastic strong Welsh accent, came booming over the auditorium speakers whilst out of sight.

Then, Jack (Carwyn Jones) and his mother emerge and we’re thrust into the wonderful story of Jack and the Beanstalk.

The set looked beautiful – I’m always impressed with what those at the Torch Theatre can accomplish. Their house covered half of the stage, leaving the other half for the actors to come and go.

We’re introduced fairly quickly to the well-known plot, and due to not having enough money to pay their way, make the sad decision to sell their beloved cow, Buttercup.

The wonderful Liam Tobin as Hilda Crankshaft, our bad guy (or gal)!

The wonderful Liam Tobin as Hilda Crankshaft, our bad guy (or gal)!

It’s also not long before we get to ‘boo’ the bad guys, Hilda Crankshaft (Liam Tobin) and FleshCreep (Oliver Wood). Hilda’s emerald green dress along with the dramatic music, gave us the obvious queue to boo, and of course, I did with pleasure, at the top of my voice.

Brian FleshCreep, played by the wonderful Oliver Wood.

Brian FleshCreep, played brilliantly by Oliver Wood.

After reminding the Trott family about the money they owed her, they sang a song about how awesome Buttercup is, considering she’s a signing, talking, surfing, dancing cow (or something or other). Buttercup packs her suitcase and goes off with Jack to find a new home.

It was great to see a cow played in a different way to how you’d normally see. I was expecting to see a cow made up of two people – one person as the head and front legs, and the other person bent over, clinging on to the other’s hips and walking as if they’ve been blindfolded.

But no, Buttercup was her own person, and I wouldn’t have noticed it was Emma Hirons playing the cow as well as the fairy had her accent not given her away!

The songs we listened to were upbeat and really captured the audience’s attention. Sophie and Jill were loving it, but Dylan being a typical 12-year-old, prefered slouching in his chair.

My main objective when I go to see a pantomime is to be the loudest, the cheekist, and the one who heckles the most. In accomplishing this quest, I also happen to embarrass those with me, which is also an objective of mine.

And, I succeeded. I shouted my loudest, screaming “It’s behind you!”

I was really pleased to see how much audience interaction there was this year. Right from the beginning, we were encouraged to sing and shout out various sentences to those on stage.

Dion Davies as Dame Trott, wowing us with his voluptuous breasts and impressive capability of walking in high heels!

Dion Davies as Dame Trott, wowing us with his voluptuous breasts and impressive capability of walking in high heels!

Dion Davies and Liam Tobin once again kept us on our toes, and with the two having worked with each other many times before, it’s obvious there’s a connection between the two, and I really love watching them on stage together. They never fail to make me laugh!

Another familiar face that was great to see again was Richard Nichols. He’s another regular at the Torch Theatre, and played his part of the King wonderfully. He pefectly catured the frailness of the King, so much so that I was suprised to see that the King had managed to climb the beanstalk.

He carried off walking with a walking stick so well he could probably get away with claiming for a dodgy knee if he pleased!

Don’t tell anyone I said that.

But, it really was great to see him back again!

There were plenty of gags in this year’s panto. I never used to find it funny when the cast made references to Milford Haven or surrounding areas, but for some reason, this year, I found it really funny! Maybe because I’d had a glass of wine, I don’t know.

Later on in the show, when Jack goes off to save the day!

Later on in the show, when Jack goes off to save the day!

The casting of the princess was brilliant this year. The princess was portrayed by the beautiful Evie Pickerill, whose playfulness and fun personality shone through her performance. She made a great match for Jack, and I couldn’t wait for them to finally get together!

After the interval, we sat down again to watch the second half. Sophie had given me a spoiler, so I was expecting members of the cast to join us in the auditorium at some point. However, when Dame Trott came running down the stairs huffing and puffing, I didn’t quite know what was going on!

During Dame Trott and Jack’s chat on the steps, they pulled out some little lights, that I know Peter loves to use. He’s had them for years now, and admittedly, they do look awesome, and Sophie and Dylan were amazed (and clueless) as to how they work!

All four of us managed to get a high five from Dame Trott before he rushed down the steps, and I was rather pleased with myself for the reaction I got, after shouting ‘wickedywakasha boo’ in reply to Dame Trott shouting ‘booyakasha’. Dion seemed impressed that someone got the Ali G reference, but that could just be me blowing my own trumpet!

Book yourself a ticket before it's too late!

Book yourself a ticket before it’s too late!

It was pretty awesome getting a shout out at the end to me, Dylan and Sophie. Neither of them were expecting it, which was amazing! The look on their faces was hilarious. However, I did have to stand up after having a shout out, and wave to the audience and the cast, saying yes, I am the mean one from that blogging website and the newspaper who will be writing a review!

I won’t spoil the rest of it for you, but this show is a must see! I left the Torch with a sore throat from shouting, and I have to say it really is a fantastic production, and gets you in the Christmas spirit, if you’re not feeling Christmassy already!

So, if you haven’t booked any tickets yet, get on the phone and dial 01646 695267 now to grab yourself a seat!

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