Every year, Tread the Boards must wonder what calamities are going to be thrown their way. For example, we saw Keep climbing that Beanstalk, Jack!Wind in the Willows on picnic chairs in a roped-off circle on a cricket pitch and Cinderella in a park-and-ride car park (on staging which had been hastily rescued that morning from a flooded racecourse!), last year’s Beauty and the Beast was hit by cast illness and self-isolation absences and this year’s Dick Whittington in Stratford was again hit by flooding and a last-minute change of venue! That Dame Dotty is a busy lady though and despite all the trials and tribulations panto (and flooding/winter illness season) bring it is clear they will do whatever they take to make sure the pantomime goes ahead, in Stratford and Chipping Campden – and of course, Cloudland!
Jack Trott is a poor boy from a poor family. His best friend in the world Daisy the Cow is sold for money and all he gets in return are beans. Magic Beans! Soon a beanstalk grows all the way up to The Giants Castle and Jack can climb to save the Princess and defeat the Giant and his evil henchman Fleshcreep, assisted by his brother Simple Simon and his Mother Dame Dotty. What was the show about?
Pantomime Review: Jack and the Beanstalk by Tread the Boards at the Cidermill Theatre, Chipping Campden
We can say that we LOVED the show. We always have a lovely time visiting Chipping Campden from Warwick and a drive out to the Cotswolds is always a treat. It was nice to discover the Cidermill Theatre too as we hadn’t been there before. The theatre is attached to Chipping Campden School and launched in 2022. It is a multi-purpose performing arts venue with lots of different spaces including the Rockspring auditorium, rehearsal rooms, an amphitheatre, Black Box studio and the Rhubarb lounge.
Anyhow, on with the show. We were absolutely delighted when we looked at our programme and found out that John-Robert Partridge was going to play Dame Dotty. He brings joy and magic to the stage in every production he is involved in. We loved the fact that there was a reasonably small cast in the show as it made it feel more intimate and we felt part of the story. This was especially true when we felt like we were Simple Simon’s buddies.
Some of our favourite highlights of the show we liked were: The highlights of Jack and the Beanstalk by Tread the Boards
I love this song anyhow, and everyone had such pleasant singing voices and harmonies. Turns out the Princess (Abigail Drennan) doubles as the Musical Director and Dame Dotty doubles as the Director too! We loved the local references in this song too, very funny! It was a lovely song to introduce the characters and bring us into the story. The principal dancers (Bethany Tolhurst-McWattgreen & Madison Wootton-Porter) appeared straight away and then continued to dance beautifully throughout the show and brought energy to all the scenes that they were in. Walking on Sunshine
This scene between Dame Dotty (John-Robert Partridge) and Fleshcreep (Alastair Oakley). Everyone was quite transfixed watching them play with these balls and they were well-balanced! The ball scene
Last year I wrote that it was our daughter’s favourite scene and her enthusiasm was quite endearing. This year, all the children got VERY excited with this one too, our daughter included. I think I might have nearly died of embarrassment though when the Dame said she couldn’t get a word in edgeways when she was trying to explain that the ghost had kidnapped all the characters! She loved it when the ghost was scared of Dame Dotty at the end and talked about it for days afterwards. Ghostbusters scene
Some impressive stage fighting skills were going on here between Jack (Jonathan Houlston) and Fleshcreep. The children in the audience were quite up for this too. Even if they did want to kill him! Sword Fight
Jack and Simple Simon’s (George Omerod’s) song – I’ll be there for you was a musical delight. It made everyone smile and had some great air guitar moments which were hilarious. It was very funny when of course the entire audience did the handclaps! I’ll be there for you
This was absolute organised chaos. Dame Dotty, Simple Simon and Lin – The Lord Chamberlain (Rob Leetham) sang the 12 days of Christmas with props. It kept getting crazier and crazier with Simple Simon eating more and more things in his mouth until he couldn’t speak any more. Good going with the catching of the grapes though. Impressive!
The 12 days of Christmas
Dotty goes into the audience to search for a husband and sings it’s raining men. My fiance was once again ducking for cover. I think he has too much hair for Dotty’s liking though. Her songs are always hilarious! Dame Dotty picks her man
The characters in this production are simply wonderful. From the creepy Fleshcreep, bright and angelic Princess Jill and her slightly nervous father Lin, to the Fairy with a plan. The two principal dancers brought grace to every scene with their dancing. You’ve also got the handsome hero Jack, the dim but hilarious Simple Simon and his absolutely divine mother Dame Dotty. We think Dotty stole the show, and her dresses were amazing! The costumes the props and the set were simple and worked well. Using a glittery leek for a microphone? Why not?! Fee-fi-fo-fun-tastic!
All in all, this is a five beans out of five production. Hats off to Producer Catherine Prout and Director John-Robert Patridge and the entire cast and crew for another wonderful pantomime. We would recommend it to everyone (looking forward to seeing what they come up with next year already!). It is suitable for all age groups and will be enjoyed by families with younger or older children. Five beans out of five!
The Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime ran from 22nd December 2023 – 7th January 2024. Ticket prices start at £12 for children aged under 16, £14 for adults over 60 and £18 for adults over 16. Groups with children can save with family tickets from £50 for a family of four and £60 for a family of five. Details about future performances can be seen on the Find out more about Jack and the Beanstalk by Tread the BoardsTread the Boards website and you can also find out about forthcoming shows at the Cidermill Theatre website. Also look out for them on their socials!
So that was our review of Jack and the Beanstalk by Tread the Boards. Have you seen a Christmas show? What did you think? Let us know by using the comments box below or joining the conversation on our Join the Conversation!Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.
(Disclaimer: We received tickets for a performance of this show. However, all views and opinions are our own.)