Q&A With Director/Dame Alex Jackson

What made you want to put on an Easter Pantomime?

Originally, the panto was written to go into a local venue at Christmas last year, but the booking fell through. By this point, we had a really strong script and a great cast, so we decided to do it all in aid of charity at Easter instead. Easter is very similar to Christmas in many ways, it’s a time for family, celebration and food, and I’d seen several other Easter pantos around, so decided to give it a go.

An open-air production is a big undertaking, what were your considerations when planning?

I think there’s something really special about theatre outdoors, especially for children. The idea is that the whole family can come along; grandparents, aunties, uncles and kids to enjoy the show together. We want people to bring a picnic, some chairs and really enjoy themselves. Make an evening of it. And if it rains? We’ve got a backup plan, but we think the outside aspect is crucial to the event.

Can you give us some examples of aspects that all members of the family will enjoy?

Even though the show is 1 hour long, we’ve packed it full of traditional panto magic. There’s plenty of hilarious slapstick including a particularly funny cow washing scene. Then you’ve got jokes for the adults and the kids from Dame Tilly Trott, my character. You’ve got a good fairy to cheer, a bad guy to boo and the classic ‘he’s behind you’ scene. Plus, we’ve got 8 songs placed throughout the show. It will make everyone in the family laugh, and that’s what you want from a panto, really.

Why did you choose to perform Jack and the Beanstalk?

I’ve always enjoyed Jack and the Beanstalk ever since I saw it on television with Neil Morrisey as Jack and Denise Van Outen as Jill. It’s got a really strong fairytale storyline, and plenty of opportunity for really great comedy routines and gags. There’s also something about the fact that Jack is just a poor farm boy, it seems really relatable in the South West and he climbs, not just the beanstalk, but also the social ladder, by being brave and adventurous. Plus, I love a panto with a ‘skin’ role, and our cow has a wonderful name to boot.

Can you sum up in one sentence why people should come and see this show?

It’s great fun, laughs and entertainment for the whole family, from age 5 to 105.

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Script by Jack Northcott