EDitorial ± 11-Jan-2010

The Back Of Jack

Our trusty Scenic has been on autopilot for the past month. Press the START button, wince at the temperature -- zero or below -- and it'll take you through town before indicating right, like a French Herbie, at the bottom of Woodbridge Road. Out the driver gets to type magic numbers into a keypad, and gates swing open to welcome you into the slushfest that is the car park of the Ipswich Regent theatre.

Running from 19-Dec to 10-Jan has been this season's pro panto, Jack & The Beanstalk (see BBC review), starring Dancing Middler as Rabbit Number 1 -- when I say "starring", I mean "featuring". Every other day, that is, 'cos the kids aren't allowed to work two days on the trot. Split into two groups, the hard working junior tappers and shufflers have dutifully shimmied their way through two shows a day, grinning relentlessly and shaking their tailfeathers.

For their efforts, the Stacey Pepper Dance Academy scraped a below-the-fold mention on the official poster, top billing going to:

  • Ken Morley, aka Reg Holdsworth from Corrie, a great dame
  • Antony Costa from Blue: didn't know him from Adam; saw this stubbly bloke smoking outside one of the early rehearsals, and assumed he was one of the dads
  • and, most excitingly for the kids, James Mackenzie, aka Raven from CBBC; walking in town on Saturday, penultimate day of the run, me and Eldest accosted the poor wee mannie for an autograph as he struggled to open a Somerfield sandwich

Life and soul of the show, though, was Carl Johns as Simple Simon, leading the audience participation and eating an unhealthy quantity of marshmallows twice daily.

Quite an experience for all concerned, especially given the atrocious weather at times. Middler's group finally got to see the show from the stalls on the very last performance. As we walked out of the foyer afterwards, a large white van had just parked outside, big letters on the side advertising The Sooty Show. One show ends, another show begins. That's theatre, darling.