By Mark Morellini
Bonnie Lythgoe is the producer and director of Jack And The Beanstalk. She has been instrumental in introducing pantomimes to Aussie theatergoers, which are considered to be tightly embedded in British culture.
Read the following interview and learn more about Jack and The Beanstalk and why this promises to be the biggest and the best panto presented by Bonnie Lythgoe.
Will this panto be humorously loyal to the tale of Jack and The Beanstalk?
Absolutely! What Christopher Wood (The Writer) and myself promise each other is that we make sure that the story is clearly told to the family audiences each year as we believe that is very important. Interlaced into the familiar tale and what makes a true panto come to life are scenic moments of pure comedy madness and mayhem that drive the storyline along. We have ensured there are plenty of these in this year’s ‘Jack And The Beanstalk”.
The comedic elements in these pantos seem to escalate from production to production. Are audiences guaranteed plenty of laughs and audience participation in this panto?
We love the challenge that we have set ourselves by having to try and make the production even more memorable and funnier than the production before. Judging by the feedback from the family audiences, it seems that we are succeeding every year. British people pride themselves on having a great sense of humour. This sense of humour is often full of obvious jokes, topical references, and slapstick comedy but it brings the laughs. We are delighted to know that Australia shares that same sense of humour and enjoys a really good belly laugh. We guarantee the brand-new script will have laughs aplenty but will still maintain the heart of this fairytale.
Describe the 3D segment in the show (without giving too much away!). What was the thought process involved in the inclusion of this 3D segment?
As with the comedic elements of our pantos, we push ourselves as a creative team to push the barriers in terms of special effects and thrills for the audience, both young and old alike. After last year’s spectacle of Rhonda Burchmore suspended over both the stage and audience without the use of wires, we needed something extra special this time around. Embedded in the story of “Jack And The Beanstalk” is the exciting journey to the Giant Blunderbore’s castle and we thought what better way than to take everybody in the audience on that journey and let them actually feel and experience the adventure for themselves, It is going to be very exciting, I guarantee that.
Will everybody’s favourite hilarious routine “12 Days of Xmas” be in this production?
It is great to acknowledge that this established routine is such a crowd pleaser here in Australia and is being asked by the public for it to become a tradition of the yearly production. I am afraid you will have to wait and see what routines lie in readiness for your delight this year.
This show is described on the media release as a ‘family’ panto musical spectacular – would I be right in saying that this show is actually for anybody who enjoys a fun night out? Is it a myth that pantos are only for ‘young children’.
Definitely a myth! Our creative team has once again pulled out all the stops to ensure and remind the audience that the theatre can be just a whole bunch of fun for everybody both young and old. The feedback we have had from our productions show that we are appealing to such a wide demographic in our audiences. The jokes are always contemporary so that they are understood by the modern audience with some priceless innuendos that make the adults laugh out loud.
You’ve assembled a great cast – what do you look for when casting these pantomimes?
It is never an easy task, as it has to be perfect. Once the subject title has been decided I start watching television to see who is current and watch local theatre so that I can get a feel of who is “panto” suitable.
There are always celebrities that stand out with their personalities, so I make a short list and arrange to meet them for an interview or audition.
From there I will know who gives me a good vibe and seems right for Panto.
Singing, personality, acting, dancing, and great comedy timing are all essential elements. This naturally makes it extremely hard for me to make the right decisions but somehow all the ingredients come together to make the perfect mix right in front of my eyes.
I have to say that this year’s cast is a very strong company indeed.
Pantos have always been incredibly popular in the UK. Are Australian theatergoers finally falling in love with pantomimes?
The genre of Panto is embedded in British culture and is considered a “must see”, as popular in the UK now as it has ever been. From our first production, Snow White, here in Australia, we have felt the same expression of unbridled joy and love from the audiences for our productions. The fact that the audience participation in the show is an important factor makes it a very special experience for everybody.
Jul 12-21. State Theatre, 49 Market St. $49-$99. Tickets & Info: www.ticketmaster.com.au