According to Terence Frisch, who plays Dame Dotty Trott in Watford Palace’s panto, Jack and the Beanstalk, it is the audience that makes the show. So if you thought you could just sit in the dark at the back, think again.
“It’s all about establishing a rapport,“ says Terence. “The panto doesn’t exist without an audience, they are an integral part of how a panto works. If you identify the funniest pieces of the story and connect with the audience, you create the panto together.“
Harrow born and bred, Terence attended St Anselm’s Catholic Primary School, Harrow-on-the-Hill and Salvatorian College in Wealdstone. He went on to study drama at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in Wandsworth.
Terence has performed locally with the former Campion Players and Belmont Theatre and has appeared in The Hobbit on tour and Lord of The Rings in the West End. Terence has spent the past ten years performing pantomime in Devon but to perform at Watford Palace this Christmas is the realisation of a dream.
So what, in Terence’s opinion, makes for a good Dame?
“Never forget you’re a bloke for a start,“ he says. “The Dame is a traditional outlandish character, who gets involved in ridiculous things.
“Panto is a peculiarly British thing to do but the secret is to make it relevant, not stuck in the past.“
Watford Palace’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk features all the fun of the fair. Andrew Pollard’s inventive new script is based on the classic tale of a boy who swaps his beloved cow for a handful of beans but with a contemporary twist.
Jack, his mother Dame Dotty Trott and their beloved cow Buttercup are running a failing milkshake diner at Frank Furter’s Funfair. The fair has also fallen on hard times, thanks to crippling taxes levied by Giant Bonecrunch and his sinister henchman, Nightshade. Only Jack is brave enough to face up to them, but will he succeed and win the heart of Furter’s daughter, Jill?
The show is directed by Kate Saxon and designed by Cleo Pettitt, the team behind Aladdin and Cinderella. Terence is looking forward to the dress rehearsal.
“My costumes are all based on fairground rides or things you might see in a diner. Cleo is such a genius designer, her sets are real feasts for the eye; you could just stand on stage and people would applaud.“
Jack and the Beanstalk also features musical arrangements by Dominic Haslam and songs such as Build Me Up Buttercup and Bohemian Rhapsody, as well as the latest hits from Lady Gaga, Jessie J and One Direction, performed by a live band and choreographed by Karen Edwards. The cast is supported by a chorus from Margaret Howard Theatre School.
“They’re great dancers and full of enthusiasm,“ adds Terence. “At the moment we’re working on the slop scenes, which are very messy and silly but it’s all worked out to finest detail.“
Young audience members have the chance to milk a cow on stage with Dame Dotty Trott and Jack. Each night two children can win the chance to take part in the milking scene.
Details on how to enter visit: www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk/ Jack and the Beanstalk runs from November 25-December 31 at Watford Palace Theatre, Clarendon Road, Watford. Details: 01923 225671