Chronicle.lu got the chance to sit in on the opening performance of Jack and the Beanstalk which commenced its 5-performance run at the Chateau de Bettembourg on Friday evening.
Two Shades of Blue have returned to the Grand Duchy following their previous productions of Cinderella, Dick Whittington, Robin Hood and Aladdin. This is pantomime season and, in true panto fashion the production features mass audience engagement (Oh no it doesn't; it's behind you...) and a certain amount of audience participation too. The jokes are aplenty, some are corny, some are political, some are double entendres for adult audiences and others are pure silly and for children, and some are linked with current affairs.
This unquestionably uniquely British art form has taken many other cultures by surprise, and others by shock; overall, it is pure family entertainment many look forward to once Christmas is over. But the troupe have been planning and rehearsing this for months...
The story is set in the town of Merrydale where Jack (Chirag Goygate) and Simon (Thomas Woolley) live with their mother, Dame Trott (Dominic Mattos). Their village is terrorised by the giant who captures villagers from time to time. The family is poor and is resorted to sell their cow (Milka the Cow), with Jack, Simon and Jill (Jack's girlfriend, played by Louise Sherlock). They are tricked by the giant's henchman Lord Fleshcreep (Ben Parker) and his sidekick Fairy Has-Bean (Cath Howdle) into accepting a ba of beans. Naturally, Jack and Simon's mother is upset and flings the beans away in disgust. The following morning, a giant beanstalk has grown outside their house.....
With a wonderful introduction and continued narration throughout by Fairy Green Bean (Lydia Menzies) dressed by a wardrobe of fabulous princess dresses, the stars of the show are undoubtedly Dominic Mattos who delivers a hugely professionally performances as Dame Trott, with Ben Parker's Lord Fleshcreep, Thomas Woolley's Simon and Louise Sherlock's Jill. If you think that the fairy's costumes are great, then just wait for the extravagance of Dame Trotts' wardrobe!
Each of the actors bring a different quality to the production: Lydia is graceful as the good fairy, Thomas engages incredibly well with the children, Louise acts as the delightful girl next door (with hidden talents), Ben is a convincing evilmonger and Kath's talents show that she is equally at home playing good or bad characters.
While the Jack the Giant Killer is an old English folk tale, Two Shades of Blue have adapted the story with the introduction of modern technology (Siri makes an appearance) and superb modern visual effects (the scene where Jack climbs the beanstalk is particularly impressive). Many jokes are up-to-date and some relate / poke fun at aspects of Luxembourg and life here.
The costumes are top-notch and the set design is so expansive, one wonders how the theatre company managed to transport it all here. The actors are supported by a back-stage crew and also a four-piece orchestra which is dragged into the fun in many a scene. The music is great and you will surely recognise tune (but not necessarily the lyrics!) from the likes of Hairspray and Car Wash. While ability to sing is not necessarily top of the list of requirements for panto actors, some of the numbers are unforgettable (for all the right reasons) including the (link to the aforementioned) Cow Wash (with great choreography) and also one song in the second act involving 6-8 female members of the cast - sustained applause!
Chronicle.lu understands that there may be some balcony seats left for most performances, but there are still many seats available for the Sunday evening performance.
PERFORMANCES: Fri 2 Feb @ 19:30; Sat 3 Feb @ 14:00 & 17:30; Sun 4 Feb @ 14:00 & 17:30
Tickets cost €20 (concessions €15) from tel: 356339 or email: email@example.com
For further details, see www.twoshadesofblue.org.uk