Review: Jack And The Beanstalk, Grand Opera House

The Jack And The Beanstalk team. Photographs: Grand Opera House / David Harrison
15 Dec 2015 @ 4.42 pm
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Jack And The Beanstalk, New Pantomime Productions, Grand Opera House

Till Jan 3, 2016


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I must be getting too old for pantos. I only knew who one of the cast was in this year’s performance of Jack And The Beanstalk at the Grand Opera House – although it has to be said it wasn’t the one my 13-year-old recognised.

She seemed rather excited to find Lewis Bloor from The Only Way Is Essex on stage, whereas I reminisced about good old Biff from Emmerdale (Stuart Wade) back in the days when I used to watch it.

That said I did feel this year’s cast were much more suited to panto than some of those who appeared in earlier years. I’m not sure if it was my imagination but there seemed to be more focus on singing this year. Either that or I appreciated the fact that this cast could sing.

Stand out performance of the evening for me had to be X Factor‘s Jade Ellis as Fairy Peapod. She has an amazing voice as well as looking pretty stunning.

TOWIE’s Lewis as King Willy did a good job of amusing the audience with a fake Yorkshire accent. And the local dancers were great.

Familiar routines

Caroline Barnes who plays Jill with Dame Tilly Trot – aka Stuart Wade
Caroline Barnes who plays Jill with Dame Tilly Trot – aka Stuart Wade

There are some elements of the show that are dragged out of mothballs each year and do nothing for me as a grown up, but seem to be very popular with the youngsters in the audience. The ghost routine is one very well-worn set piece.

As always, the combination of slapstick and audience participation in The Twelve Days Of Christmas was popular – although I’m not sure how much of that is down to the inevitable accidents that occur from the cast running from one side of the stage to the other.

I was disappointed by the understated costumes for Stuart Wade’s character Tilly Trott. For me they needed to be louder and gaudier and just plain larger – the panto dame should command the stage with their costumes.

I also felt the witch’s costume let down her character. And my daughter was unimpressed with the beanstalk which looked decidedly flimsy as it was made from air-inflated fabric.

Excellent singing

From Essex to pantoland, Towie's Lewis Bloor
From Essex to pantoland, Towie’s Lewis Bloor

Whilst I do seem to have found negatives with the show I have to say I enjoyed it more than previous years.

The cast worked well together, the singing was excellent and there was great interaction with the audience – although watch out if your child is one of the ones who goes on stage for the singing competition as you could end up having to put a fiver under their pillow tonight!

Hopefully you won’t be seated in a row directly in front of a rather large and enthusiastic group of youngsters who spend most of the evening fidgeting in their seats and kicking the seat in front of them.

But they did enjoy the show and at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about.