By George, what a tonic!

Jack and the Beanstalk at Colne Muni with junior reviewer Cameron Smith (front left)
Jack and the Beanstalk at Colne Muni with junior reviewer Cameron Smith (front left)

I THINK I’ve found the cure for man flu!

Well, some temporary relief at any rate, and it has nothing to do with medical science. Because by Saturday teatime I was thoroughly fed up of this lingering Christmas cold which seemed determined to drag on into the New Year. I’d had the chills and shivers, the hot flushes, the aches and pains, generally feeling “wrung out”, then the runny nose and now I was into the dry, tickly, hacking cough stage.

None of this – especially the cough – was good preparation for a trip to the theatre, but that’s what lay ahead on Saturday night. And it turned out to be the best medicine anyone could prescribe.

For the best part of three wonderful hours my rotten cold was completely forgotten as myself and my family laughed, shouted, sung and even “wiggled” our way through the annual panto at Colne’s Muni Theatre.

This year it was “Jack and the Beanstalk”, though to be honest it doesn’t matter all that much what the story is, just as long as all the essential panto ingredients are there – the dashing hero (hurrah!), the nasty villain (boo! hiss!), the good fairy, the good-hearted simpleton, and who could forget the dame.

This panto had all these and more besides, including the familiar elements tht keep families and even coach parties going back year after year. If you don’t yet know the correct response to “Hi-Ya-kids!”, the moves to “Wiggly Woo”, just what was “made for three” or why it’s essential that anyone coming round the mountain must have a “handy little bench”, then get yourselves along to the Muni and join the club.

Highlights for me this year included a deliciously over-the-top villian in Fleshcreep (Oliver Broad) and the outrageous Dame Dolly Dimplebottom (Keith DeWinter), whose blossoming affection for one audience member saw him missing from his seat by the second half! Maybe he ate the mushrooms?

The entire cast did a splendid job, all engineered, as ever, by writer and director George Critchley... and by George it was good.

But as much as I enjoyed it, panto is really for the kids. On the way home we did the “What was your favourite bit?” thing, and I had to say mine was the little girl two rows in front standing on her seat yelling at the top of her voice “It’s behind you! It’s a ghost! Oh yes it is!...” Now that’s audience participation.

So it’s enough from me and over to number one son and junior reviewer Cameron (nine) for his take (entirely unassisted) on the whole thing:

“I went to see Jack and the Beanstalk with my family at Colne Muni. The main character were Jack, Princess Jill, Silly Billy, The King (who was also the giant), Fleshcreep (who is the giant’s henchman) and Dame Dolly Dimplebottom.

“One really great part was the traditional panto ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’. Dolly fell over in that part and everyone laughed!

“The dancing, performed by the East Lancashire School of Dance, was really good. But the best part had to be the special effects. The beanstalk was brillian, the giant was brilliant and the house was brilliant.

Overall it was a great show. I really enjoyed joining in and it made me laugh a lot. There was only one part I didn’t like – when it ended!”

l Jack and the Beanstalk runs at the Muni Theatre, Colne, until January 20th, with 10 a.m. shows on the 10th, 16th, 17th and 18th, 1-30 p.m. matinees most days and 7 p.m. shows on Fridays and Saturdays. For full details or to book, call the box office on 01282 661234 or visit: