Jack and the Beanstalk

IAN CLARKE Memorial Hall, Dereham

IAN CLARKE

> Memorial Hall, Dereham

It was no laughing matter for Dereham Operatic Society when one of the leading characters in the end-of-year slapstick panto was taken ill on the eve of the curtain going up.

Chris Carroll – who plays Jack's brother Simple Simon – went down with the dreaded bug.

But the show had to go on – and it did in fine style to the delight of a very healthy first-day audience as experienced Fakenham actor Nick Bird stood in at the last minute to fill Simple Simon's boots.

The well-known and well-loved show has been updated this year and in true panto style had all the bad jokes, madcap antics and audience participation that we expect.

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No local production would be the same without some good local gags – and even Breckland Council leader Cliff Jordan and his large allowances budget got a mention.

Nick Bird quite rightly got a rousing ovation and the evergreen Dereham dame Tony Wilds produced his usual top-rate performance.

Piccalli the wicked witch (Marea Smithson) was excellently portrayed as an Anne Robinson figure.

With clever special effects, colourful costumes and scenery, and a range of well-known songs such as Money Makes the World Go Round, Bring Me Sunshine and Reach for the Stars, it was a good all-round production.

Jack and The Beanstalk continues at Dereham Memorial Hall until January 3. Box office: 01362 851919.

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