Jack And The Beanstalk is one of the ‘fab four’ pantos, says the man calling the shots on the Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company’s take on the familiar tale of simple heroes, magic beans and vengeful giants.
The curtain goes up on Friday for this year’s run at the Boxmoor Playhouse, and director Ian Gower says he believes the story ranks alongside Aladdin, Dick Whittington and Cinderella as one of the fundamental planks of panto.
Last year’s Peter Pan was full of technical challenges, but this year it’s back to the basics of character and story.
Ian said: “We have approached Jack And The Beanstalk to make it less complex from the point of view of production and performance, while keeping traditional pantomime values and elements at the fore.”
With big name TV stars appearing in glossy panto productions just a few miles down the road, what’s the attraction of staying closer to home?
Ian says: “Pantos with big budgets are the cash cows for the professional theatre and it is important that they can make hay at this time of year.
“But I believe pantomime is more at home in a smaller more intimate environment such as the Boxmoor Playhouse.
“Many larger pantomimes rely on a star to sell tickets and often the story can become secondary and the audience becomes less involved.
“And community pantos are by far better value for money – in my experience many audience members don’t return to larger venues after seeing a small intimate production such as those we produce each year.
“Pantomime is an essential way of introducing young people to theatre and indeed many of the parents, relatives and friends are also often viewing theatre for the first time.”
Those enjoying Jack as their theatre debut can be reassured that traditional japes, topical jokes and audience involvement are all part of the fun.
The curtain will go up on Friday at 7.30pm and then shows have been timed with families firmly in mind.
On Saturday there are performances at 11am and 4pm, while Sunday will feature a 2.30pm matinee.
Then the following Thursday and Friday, December 12 and 13, there are 7.30pm evening performances before 1.30pm and 6pm shows on Saturday, December 14 and a final 2.30pm performance on the Sunday, December 15.
Ticket prices start at £10 for adults and £8 for children, and group deals are available.
Visit www.boxmoorplayhouse.co.uk for full details and to reserve your seats, or call 0844 8700887 to find out more.