The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich has won the award for Best Digital Pantomime in the UK, for their 2021 production of Jack and the Beanstalk. The award was given out by the UK Pantomime Association as part of the Pantomime Awards 2022, in association with holiday company Butlins.
The individual award winners were named on April 19 at Trafalgar Theatre in London during an event hosted by pantomime legend Christopher Biggins.
According to the UK Pantomime Association website “a team of 46 judges was recruited by the newly formed UK Pantomime Association which developed a set of criteria for the awards in collaboration with industry experts such as designer Terry Parsons, writer Joyce Branagh and performer Lisa D Phillip.
Jack and the Beanstalk, written by New Wolsey Artistic Director Peter Rowe and directed by Kate Golledge, was as a “rock ‘n’ roll panto” that featured a cast of multi-skilled actor musicians presenting a glorious mash-up of pantomime and pop concert. The production featured classic and beloved elements of pantomime combined with live performances of classic rock and pop songs including Hit The Road Jack, Lady Marmalade, Get Offa My Cloud and Go Your Own Way. The show blended live theatre and music with filmed and created video content, allowing Jack to climb up the beanstalk into space, Jack and Bessie to head to market through the town of Ipswich and Fairy Aubergine to display her magical skills, among other things. The award-winning digital content was created by video designers Jake Barinov and Peter Hazelwood and it meant that the show could push the boundaries of setting and creativity, offering something both new and unique to a well-loved story.
Following the critically acclaimed success of the theatre’s hybrid pantomime offering The Snow Queen last year, which was “adored” by New York Times critics Alexis Soloski and Elisabeth Vincentelli, the now award-winning production was also livestreamed from the theatre to families across the world. Cameras were positioned in varying places around the auditorium, including a roaming camera operated by a member of the technical staff, and actors directed various lines to camera, to really include viewers watching from home and turn the livestream into its own unique experience.
Captioned, Audio Described, British Sign Language and Relaxed performances were also available during the run and all livestream performances had captioning and audio described options available, except for British Sign Language performances where the livestream’s captioning option was replaced by a BSL option.