REVIEW: Jack and The Beanstalk

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Would The Lady take on Jack and The Beanstalk pantomime a second time at the Buxton Opera House? Oh no she wouldn’t? Oh yes she would!!!!

I think any five year old would agree that seeing a panto is the highlight of any day but does the possibility of loving a rollicking panto engage the young at heart with those pesky grown-up facades? Can panto entertain all ages and make us all end up shouting out “he’s behind you!”? Well, it was up to this lady to find out after not seeing a panto show for years. I travelled back in time to my five-year-old self and despite being surrounded by two schools of actual children screaming and cheering, had one of the most uplifting and delightful theatrical experiences of my life at the Jack and The Beanstalk production inside the gorgeously situated Buxton Opera House.

I took my Mother. As a grown up lady, I felt it was only appropriate to enjoy the opening show of the panto with the woman who took me to see my first. I wasn’t the only one as a group of three grown sisters sat in front of me – one living in the UK, one living in America and one in Australia – who had all convened to take their elderly father to see the pantomime while spending Christmas together. They wore santa hats, sang along to the songs and booed the baddie with blissful looks on their faces as every moment of the story unfolded.

THE CONCEPT: Jack and The Beanstalk is a fairly straightforward telling of a boy who is fooled into selling his family cow for a bag of beans that end up being magical and sprout a mighty stalk that Jack must climb in order to defeat a giant who lives up it and is threatening to destroy his village. Fools become heroes in this fairytale and with a few tweaks to the traditional retelling we get some colourful characters and new motivations for Jack – such as “Jill”, the princess who he is in love with and wants to rescue. Jack’s brother is “Silly Simon” (I guess “Simple Simon” isn’t PC anymore) played by Joseph Elliott, known for his role in Cbeebies Swashbuckle and their mother is Dame Trott played by Steve Nallon who plays the camped up role to its fullest favour. Dame Trott has an acute Northern accent and tenderly says “my lovelies” as she addresses her audience.

THE SUCCESSES: Pantomime has been updated since “my generation” as the show regularly incorporated tech-talk like “texting”, “selfies” and “apps” along with a soundtrack worthy of Top of the Pops (Pharrell’s “Happy”, John Legend’s “All of Me” and “Love is An Open Door” from Frozen, to name a few). The aforementioned “All of Me” was beautifully sung by Josh Little, who plays Jack.

Some of the best moments are the ones you so eagerly wait for, just itching to interact with those up on stage and be a part of bringing the story to life. Turns out whether you are six, twenty-six or sixty, it has a certain amount of enjoyment to boo the baddie or tell Dame Trott to have a good day.

Speaking of the baddie, Rhys Owen plays Fleshcreep – the physical bad guy as the giant seems too large to fit in his entirety into the Buxton Opera House. In one of the show’s biggest highlights, Owens performs “Time Warp” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show which the audience (yes, even the kidlets) thoroughly enjoyed and indulged in singing along to.

THE SETBACKS: Of course the decision to discuss the setbacks of the show will most definitely get me booed but the “Lets Join The Circus” number was chaotic and pointless. I wasn’t overly enthused about the heroes song and performance but at least it created some context to the story as Jack’s heroism was in short order and it is a primary theme of the story in general to see Jack go from fool to hero.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Pantomime is still one of the best family experiences at Christmas. The cast were overall quite outstanding and playful with their audience. The songs were a lot of fun and people of all ages could sing along. Might I suggest you take the children to this panto show, and if you don’t have any of your own, rent some for a couple of hours. Seeing pantomime is a delight in itself but seeing it through a child’s eyes, well….


Would The Lady take on Jack and The Beanstalk pantomime a second time at the Buxton Opera House?

Oh no she wouldn’t? Oh yes she would!!!!


Jack And The Beanstalk plays at the Buxton Opera House from December 11th 2014 – January 3rd 2015

  • Lady Wordsmith
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