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The Reviews. 14th December 2017

December 15, 2017


We’ve had some very nice and complimentary reviews in the local press. Here’s one from The Bucks Free Press, written by ANDREW COLLEY, Managing Editor.

Ashleigh and Sully join Simon Webbe in brilliant Wycombe Swan panto Jack and the Beanstalk

Wide-eyed and open-mouthed, children and adults alike have been left mesmerized by Wycombe Swan’s new paw-fect pantomime.

The long-awaited production of Jack and the Beanstalk is ambitious and brave, but with show bosses allowing a four-legged animal to take the lead while at the same time throwing a risky 3D element into the mix, surely it is a potential recipe for disaster?

Oh, no it isn’t!

Celebrating 25 years in the business, the Wycombe Swan has definitely put on one of their best-ever panto performances, adding 21st century trimmings to the traditional feast of entertainment.

Pulling out all the stops for this year’s Christmas cracker, the star-studded cast was led by former boyband chart-topper Simon Webbe (Jack Trot) and Britain’s Got Talent winner Ashleigh Butler (Princes Apricot) – along with her flawless pooch partners.

After only a few minutes it was obvious the audience was hooked – from dancing dogs Sully and Eliza, to brilliant singing and dancing, hilarious gags and a spellbinding 3D extravaganza, the show was simply superb.

Having watched numerous pantomime performances over the years, I headed to the Wycombe Swan fully aware that while aimed at all the family not everyone enjoys it.

I was joined on Tuesday night by my partner, Lauren, and two younger brothers. At just seven and eight, their opinion on the show was always likely to be more important than ours.

It was when travelling to the theatre that I realised how stressful these experiences can be – we had them for just a couple of hours, but I was well in need of a break by the time we were shown to our seats by the excellent volunteer ushers.

As I sat there I found myself hoping for the best, if the boys didn’t enjoy it we could be in for a very uncomfortable evening.

However, I quickly realised there had been no need to fear. From the opening scenes, it was apparent that the choice of Jack and the Beanstalk was a hit with all the children.

And by the time Ashleigh and Sully first appeared on stage, the chorus of boos, cheers and laughter had begun to get louder – it was then that everyone was able to get a glimpse of the stunning human-pet double act.

The 2012 talent show winner was incredible and easily able to conjure up memories which would live long in the mind.

For me, the real success of the show was the ability to entertain all. There were plenty of more adult-friendly jokes, while the usual panto clichés quite often done to death on a night like this were used sparingly but with a brilliant effect.

Simon Webbe was another crowd favourite. Probably looking most comfortable when leading the stage with his voice rather than acting, his performance of Blue’s hit One Love was a brilliant moment.

Simon and Ashleigh received the expert support of CBeebies star Chris Jarvis (Simple Simon) and Nigel Ellacott (Dame Trot) who in his 43rd pantomime is considered to be one of the UK’s best panto dames.

It was when all four of the main cast – brilliantly supported by dozens of amazing actors, performers and behind-the-scenes crew – were on stage that the show really came to life.

Hilarious mentions of the local community had the audience in raptures, while a “stripping” scene involving Dame Trot and – much to the delight of many in the crowd – Simon Webbe got everyone on their feet.

The perfect performance was capped off after the interval by an intriguing 3D show. Having been handed a pair of special glasses we were in for a treat as a screen at the back of the stage came to life taking us inside the giant’s lair, with creepy crawlies appearing to fly at us.

And a hysterical 12 days of Christmas parody brought tears to the eyes of many. It was a personal favourite of mine, particularly when Sully raced to the stage with 12 copies of his “favourite” local newspaper, the Bucks Free Press.

Maybe the bribe of praising the Free Press clouded my judgement, but in all seriousness I have no doubt, as pantomime’s go, this is right up there as the best I have seen.

To witness stars of stage and screen do what they do best for our local audience was a brilliant sight and their epic version of Jack and The Beanstalk was truly spellbinding.



Great review- more to follow! Today was “I Scream For Ice Cream” as the old Songsheets used to chorus. Dame Trott was invited to learn how to make ice cream in a parlour across the road from the Swan Theatre- It is called “The Works”.

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The words “free Ice Cream” were a magnet for our cast, and apparently my first attempt at gelato ice cream making was extremely well received- a huge jug of milk, then double cream and a machine created a tasty “Top Of The Milk” flavour ice-cream. It lacked Charlie Cairoli to make the ice cream machine explode, but it was great fun. Thanks John & Jamie at the Swan for organising this!

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Two packed houses- a longer interval in the matinee due to a child throwing up in the auditorium, poor usherettes.. its not what you need in a packed house.. During that long interval a certain furry four legged person who shall be nameless sneaked into my dressing room and removed a pastry from the table top! The evidence was pretty damning, but even that evidence was swiftly hoovered up by a second furry visitor!

The Second house saw Weymouth Dame, Lee Redwood in to see the show with Choreographer Gemma. They had driven straight from a ten o’clock matinee for schools, arriving just before second show. Great to catch up over a meal before they headed back South.


More reviews to follow!

One Comment
  1. Rosemary permalink

    How I wish I could be there! Well done to all the cast, especially Chris Jarvis. You are brilliant!
    Rosemary x

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