So we’ve put the article about the royal foetus laying claim to Berwick to one side, reckoning we have seven more months in which our word seeds can gestate as they bob about in the warm fluid of our mind-womb.
Because a new arrival is imminent – even as we speak the head is engaged, poised to wreak havoc as it enters the world in a gasping rush of song, dance and jazz hands.
Yes, this Thursday Berwick will be oohing and aahing over Jack and the Beanstalk, the latest production from Little Wolf Entertainment, one that’s even bigger and bouncier than before. Which is what you want really, where giants are involved.
Now, we’ve interviewed Morgan Brind of Little Wolf before – twice to be exact, for Aladdin and Sleeping Beauty. This will be the third time and, no, it’s not lucky; it’s not lucky at all. Because this is not like writing a school report where you can simply put “Shanice would do well if she only remembered to keep her hands to herself,” then cut and paste it 35 times changing nothing but the name.
Here at NOT BAd we offer a bespoke interview service. We endeavour to engage our readership; we take pride in honing our questions with our light sabre intellect to keep you, dearest Reader, marvelling out our keenly intuitive questioning. We endeavour always to seek out answers to those questions other publications are too afraid to ask.
So, Morgan, writer and designer, does size matter?
God, yes, absolutely it matters. The charm of any show is all about the spectacle, and we have an actual giant! I feel like a proud parent. It’s incredible. He took a specialist team of four five weeks to make, and the attention to detail is amazing. It takes real skill to produce something this large that’s not only light, but strong and safe. With a panto like Jack and the Beanstalk you can’t disappoint. You can’t just have a booming voice off-stage and the odd over-scaled prop. You have to deliver, which is why we also have a beanstalk that you actually see grow on stage. Then we have more set than ever with a wonderful storybook design. I’m so excited about this show, I can’t wait.
Magic beans or sprouts?
Magic beans all the time – a little bit of glitter goes a long way. You can’t be in this line of work and not have some glitter rub off on you. I’m not a big fan of sprouts.
Chopper or power tool?
Chopper on stage, power tool off.
We have all the traditional story and panto elements because there are certain expectations you have to meet. So yes, there’s the big song and dance, the slop and UV scenes, the local kids. And of course we have plenty of “It’s behind you,” and, “Oh, yes we are.”
But then we balance that with a nod to the contemporary, so there are references to this year’s Olympics, for instance, and the songs are all modern and have that appeal for younger members of the audience.
Jack the Giant Killer or thieving delinquent?
I feel uncomfortable with the character of Jack in the original fairytale, as he doesn’t seem to have any motivation other than money for stealing from and then killing the poor old giant. We stay pretty close to the original story but there is always going to be a temptation for variation, and for us it was to ensure motivation for all the characters. So we’ve made the giant a baddie who has stolen the golden harp and hen in the first place, so Jack has some justification in doing what he does.
While we like all our characters to have their individual journeys, obviously Jack being the lead needed a longer one. He starts off as lazy, good for nothing, lost. He’s at an age where he should be grown up but he doesn’t know how to be – how most of us feel at some time or other. By the end of the whole adventure he kind of proves himself and shows real strength of character.
Simon Cowell or Simon Callow?
Put it this way, Alan [Bowles, Little Wolf’s co-founder and choreographer] has banned us from watching X Factor. He has a whole rant on the subject.
Music in the show this year is very ambitious thanks to our MD, Peter Kenworthy, who’s come up with five or even six-part harmonies – I can’t remember. Oh dear, it could all go horribly wrong…
While there are a few people with natural ability that can just ‘do it’, all our main cast is professionally trained. This year we’ve had submissions from celebrities looking to take part which is lovely, but we’d sooner have the good people. “Yes, you can tell us the weather, love, but can you tell a story in a way that keeps a child entranced for two hours?”
True, you might get a few extra bums on seats through the draw of celebrity, but their fee cancels out any gain. Plus a celebrity can never just play a character; they always have to play their public persona, which changes the whole feel of the production.
So Simon Callow, please.
Dame Mary Trott – fine example of an independent woman or damning indictment of single parenthood?
Whatever character you play, you always want to believe that they act for the best. The dame is the archetypal mother figure, a source of nurturing. That said, Jack’s mother has been married 16 times, 15 of her husbands having died from eating poisoned mushrooms…
Blood of an Englishman or full English?
Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a Bordersman. I don’t want to be seen picking sides.
Last year Little Wolf promised that Sleeping Beauty would be bigger than the previous year’s Aladdin, and it was. With the design and research for Jack and the Beanstalk starting last January, set-building beginning in June, £6,000 spent on costumes, a £50,000 overall outlay give or take, this production promises to be the biggest pantomime that Berwick has ever seen. However as Little Wolf receives no funding, its success is entirely dependent on ticket sales, a scary prospect for any show.
As Morgan says, “We have spent a lot on Jack and the Beanstalk; it’s stupidly ambitious. That’s the problem with caring. We could have had a black backdrop, black floor, no costume changes except for one hat, no giant, no beanstalk, just the cast gazing into space somewhere above their heads. But that’s not what we’re in it for. We want to put on the best show we can. It’s about the spectacle.”
So big, bigger, biggest. Come along and see the spectacle for yourself.
Little Wolf Entertainment in association with The Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed, presents Jack and the Beanstalk, the giant pantomime spectacular! Thursday 13th – Saturday 29th December 2012. Click here for details and booking.