THREE sell-out performances of Usk Panto Players’ ‘Jack-A-Story’ enthralled over 600 people at the beginning of December in Usk Memorial Hall.
Giving an excellent performance in her first leading role, Jack was played by Alisha Welsher, who had to climb the beanstalk to restore her family and neighbours’ fortunes to fend off the nasty ‘Two Rons’ – a great double act from Matt Salter (Big Ron) and Callum Jacques (Little Ron).
After losing his heart to Jack, Little Ron changed his ways and, assisted by a group of Salvation Army girls, rescued Jack from the castle at the top of the beanstalk, where she had been captured by the evil Makeamelia and her two silly sons Fee and Fi – another hilarious comedy double act from Scott Hazledine and Meirion Howells.
As in all good panto stories, good overcame evil by the end, and Jack agreed to marry Little Ron.
Written by Julie McGowan and directed by Peter McGowan, the show had a range of excellent support characters, from Jackie Williams playing Jack’s increasingly tipsy mother, to a group of quirky villagers and castle servants, blowsy barmaids, a local vet, (played by local vet, Philip Huxley!) and Bo Vine, the cow, played by Cath Gourdie, who also choreographs the show.
‘We had seven children in this year’s show, who played the magic beans and then a group of captured orphans,’ said Peter. ‘Some of them had not been in panto before and they all worked incredibly hard to produce delightful performances.’
He added, ‘We are also exceedingly lucky to have the superb musical skills of Richard Wadley as our accompanist, and a dedicated team of hard-working stage, lighting and costume crew. With front of house volunteers, it really is a huge combined effort but it pays off when we know people have really enjoyed the show – and are already asking us what we are doing next year!’
This year’s panto benefited from the new lighting that has just been installed in the Memorial Hall, with funds from these performances helping towards the cost.
‘Since its inception 28 years ago, the purpose of Usk Panto Players has been to support and improve the Memorial Hall,’ Peter explained.
‘We are now confident that there isn’t a village hall in the county that has the facilities the Memorial Hall offers and we are proud of what everyone associated with the Players has achieved over the years so that our community can enjoy this great facility.’