Aug 29

Richard's solo as Cliff Richard was particularly amusing. The cast gave a double tribute to Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics in their off-beat approach to "out-casts" who appear in pantomime, which gave some food for thought. It was a pity some of the intelligent, subtle lyrics were drowned by the accompanying keyboard and percussion. However, musical director Clive Swan and Anthony Varney, percussion, rectified this in the second half which began with an hilarious parody of Andy Stewart's New Year's Party with Richard Beaumont, complete with ginger wig and enormous sporran. This was sung to a medley of Andrew Lloyd Webber numbers, with extremely witty words. Festivities continued with Christmas past - Christmas BC was an empty stage. A Dickensian send up of a ballroom scene, beloved of BBC costume dramas, followed. The highlight for most people was the Posh and Becks sketch, The Twelve Days of Christmas.

White Christmas was recalled from the past by Bing Crosby, while Johnny Mathis' A Child is Born was followed by the office party sketch, Kiss Your Manager, set to Give It The Old Razzle Dazzle. This must have rung a few Christmas bells. And so to the traditional pantomime, performed by a group of geriatric, aristocratic thespians in a retirement home. Possibly a trifle too long, this produced every cliche in the book, including the rear end of a cow getting in a tangle with a zimmer frame. The spoof programme, printed upside-down, including a bingo game everybody won, were innovative extras, making this Jack and the Beanstalk unique. Possibily a little non-PC but done with humorous affection.

The two-hour show was just the right length and it concluded with audience participation as the company sang more recent popular seasonal songs such as Slade's Here It Is Merry Christmas, this time with the proper words. Although it was difficult to establish who did what, apart from Richard and wife Lynne [sic], Chris Clarke, John Holland, Lucy Gwynne-Evans, Jean Heard, Donna Jones, Anna Rufey and Jean Warner provided a great evening's entertainment, their singing voices being of a high standards [sic]. Tickets are still available for Saturday's matinee so, to set you in the party spirit, rush down and get them.

Wendy Keeling Taylor