Fee-fi-fo-fum! It’s time for Thame Players’ pantomime … not forgetting the Dame!

Tony Long as Dame DickWhittington Thame Players 2019

Fee-fi-fo-fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”

So says the Ogre in Jack and the Beanstalk, a favourite amongst pantomimes, opening tomorrow at the Players Theatre Thame on Friday 2nd December.

The story goes back to the eighteenth century (and some research shows it goes back much earlier): The Story of Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean appeared in 1734, but the version used today is based on Joseph Jacobs’ retelling in English Fairy Tales in 1890.

In Thame Players’ version of this well-known fairy tale, the hero is Jack, a poor country boy, who trades the family’s cow for magic beans. The beans grow into a towering beanstalk. When Jack climbs the beanstalk, he finds himself in the castle of an unfriendly Ogre. Jack is hopelessly in love with the Princess, and determined to defeat the Ogre, who is huge and threatening and wants to eat humans for breakfast, assisted by his henchman Stinkweed.  Of course, Jack outwits the Ogre, assisted by Sweet Pea, the fairy, and various other characters including Robin Hood and some of his Merry Men – and even the Brothers Grimm of fairy-tale fame!

Another of the characters we could not be without in any self-respecting pantomime is the Dame. In this production of Jack and the Beanstalk, the Dame is played by Tony Long and this year is special, because it will mark his 30th performance as the Dame. Tony took the role over when there was a vacancy in the early 1980s, created by the departure of Roger Smith, who had played the Dame for many years. Tony’s first Dame role was in Cinderella in 1984 and he hasn’t looked back since! He says, “Every year I go to the panto auditions and every year I wonder if someone else will show flair for the role and knock me off my perch. But while I’m still fit enough, I’ll keep auditioning and keep hoping to get the part.” He added, “For me the panto is the highlight of the year. I thoroughly enjoy all the roles I play but Pantomime Dame is without doubt my favourite.”

Thame Players’ Jack and the Beanstalk is co-directed by Colleen Tudway and Steve Lambell, themselves veterans of many a pantomime. They said, “We couldn’t be more delighted than to be celebrating Tony’s 30th appearance as the Dame in this year’s panto, he is always a big hit with audiences, and is without doubt one of the best exponents of the role. Long may he continue.”

The plot would not be complete without the Dame, and of course, the corny jokes which will have you groaning and laughing in your seat, the singing and dancing routines and all the elements we expect and look forward to every year … It all adds up to great family entertainment and audiences are guaranteed to have a brilliant time. – oh, yes, they will!     

Tickets are selling fast, so if you want to see Jack and the Beanstalk at the Players Theatre from 2nd December, act now to be sure of a seat – oh, yes, you should!   

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Jack and the Beanstalk will be performed from Friday 2nd – Sunday 4th December and from  Wednesday 7th – Sunday 11th December at the Players Theatre, Thame OX9 2DP. Weekday evening performances are at 7.45 pm, performances on Saturdays and Sundays are at 2.00 pm and 5.30 pm. Tickets are £10.00 and £9.00. Book online atwww.thameplayers.co.uk  or from the Information Centre at Thame Town Hall (check https://www.thametowncouncil.gov.uk/visit-thame/information-centre/ for opening times) or call on 01844 212833.

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