Friday, 17 February 2017

"The Giant Jam Sandwich" by New Perspectives.
I've never even set foot in The Guildhall theatre at Derby, often wondered where it was and had heard many wonderful things about the shows that have been performed there, and shows to be performed there.
So when I was asked to pop down and review New Perspectives new musical, "The Giant Jam Sandwich", I jumped at the chance to, not only see this show for children, but to break my duck by visiting the theatre for the first time.
Possible not the easiest of theatres to locate if you didn't know where to look but, having found it, along with the very helpful and friendly staff, i ascended the gorgeous staircase to a bijou little theatre with raked seating for 182 downstairs and a small balcony area seating a further 60.
The intimacy of this theatre is perfect for shows like "The Giant Jam Sandwich". In a fictitious village called Itching Down, there's a sudden onslaught of wasps, millions of the blighters.The mayor has gathered together the village folk to see what they are to do about ridding their village of them, they even call in a wasp expert, but it;s the baker, Mr Bap, who comes up with the idea of baking a massive loaf of bread and making the biggest jam sandwich ever to trap the wasps.
The characters, and there are several of them, are all played by three very entertaining actors, Christopher Finn, Sarah Ratheram and Paul Critoph. they take on the baker, a farmer, the mayor, the wasp expert and even a pair of wasps and the odd bee among their several guises.
It's great fun, and not just for the kids either as I noticed several of the parents joining in with the audience participation bits.
The songs are very well written, simple but catchy, but from a music point of view quite technical. Some of the melodies wouldn't sound out of place in a serious musical. James Atherton has done a good job on the music front, and I'm sure that all the kids will now know the instructions to how you make bread, thanks to his catchy tune.
The props were all well used (loved the helicopter and the flying tractor) and the costumes were bright and fun along with the choreography.
The set was colourful and looked simple but I know that simple sets aren't always as they seem. Amy Jane Cook designed the set, so I'm sure she knows what I mean.
Being aware that Jack McNamara was the director, I knew that this would be good as I've seen several of his pieces previously in Nottingham at the Playhouse and Lakeside. This was snappy and pacy, making sure that the kids were entertained and their focus kept throughout the production which lasts just over an hour.
The author and illustrator of the book, which I hadn't realised dated back to 1972, also has local connections as John Vernon Lord was born and bred in Derbyshire. The wonderful verses in the play are by Janet Burroway.
Now, I love a good read of the programme while waiting for the show to start and this programme is full of fascinating facts like the above as well as wasp facts and how to make bread (for the young ones), as well as the usual details about the actors and creatives. Thanks Ruth Disney for a really nicely informative programme.
"The Giant Jam Sandwich" is at The Guidhall Theatre in Derby until Saturday18 February and then goes on a mini tour to the following venues.
 Sunday 5 March at Highbank Community Centre, Clifton
Saturday 11 March at Kegworth Village Hall (on the border of Notts and Derbys) and Sunday 12 March at Create Theatre, Mansfield.
It's always nice, as a reviewer and theatre fan to step back occasionally and see something a bit different, and that is what this is, so take your kids, Grandkids, your granny, uncles and aunts because they will all love this production.

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