Jack and Jill are visiting their uncle, Baron Bumble, at Muddlethrough Manor in fair Arcadia. The only excitement there is Dame Dobb's overtures to Tommy Tittlemouse. The children soon liven things up by playing wicked little tricks on the adults, landing themselves in trouble. Feeling repentant, they search for ways to do good, little knowing that they are unwittingly to become agents of Demon Discontent who seeks to steal all happiness from Arcadia. The good humour of the land is protected by a spell cast upon the water in an old well which must not be spilt. When Discontent makes other sources of water run dry, Jack and Jill attempt to help by bringing water from the magic well, causing the bumbling Fetch and Carry to try and stop them.... with disastrous consequences. The Rainbow Fairy comes to the rescue, giving one more chance to Jack and Jill to do their best-or worst-and with the help of Peter and Marjory, gypsies, an old Wizard and the Forgotten Toys, the pair excel, bringing about a happy ending for all but Demon Discontent.
"Jack and Jill" was a creation of that great Victorian writer, Edward Leman Blanchard, who wrote thirty-seven of the famous Drury Lane pantomimes and twenty-eight more for other London Theatres. Known as "The Prince of Openings", Blanchard's pantomimes were the most spectacular ever staged, and his final script in 1888 (Babes in the Wood) introduced the immortal Dan Leno to Drury Lane audiences for the first time.
First performed at Drury Lane in 1854, "Jack and Jill" quickly became a pantomime favourite and continued to draw audiences well into the late twentieth century, with comedians Arthur Askey, Ken Platt, Beryl Reid and Charlie Chester in leading roles. Like many other once popular subjects, however, modern-day productions are few and far between; professional managements finding it easier to throw together yet another "Cinderella", "Dick Whittington", "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Aladdin". Small wonder that runs are now shorter than ever before.
Fortunately, amateur societies are far more adventurous, and in recent years I've been delighted by productions of "Little Boy Blue", "Mary,Quite Contrary", "The House that Jack Built" and "li Baba and the Forty Thieves"; all playing to packed houses and enthusiastic audiences.
So here is my version of an old favourite, complete with two famous set-pieces that bring the place down at every performance. Hope you enjoy it.
The Rainbow Fairy
Baron Bumble, of Muddlethrough Manor
Jack, Bumble's nephew
Jill, Bumble's niece
Marjory Daw, Bumble's ward
Peter Pumpkin-eater, Bumble's gardener
Tommy Tittlemouse, Dame Dobb's reluctant beau
Fetch and Carry, local layabouts
Demelzia, the Gypsy Queen
Tonio, a gypsy
Antiquita, Keeper of Past Pleasures
Chorus of Villagers, Gypsies, Servants, Guests, Imps, Lost Toys, etc.
For Delyth and Andrew Cresswell.