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Jack and the Beanstalk: The Mayflower, Southampton

Writer: Jonathan Kiley and Michael Vivian with additional material from Julian Clary and David McGillivray

Director/ Producer: Jonathan Kiley

Reviewer: Sarah Forrester

[Rating:5]

Is this probably the best Pantomime this season? Oh Yes it Is!

The Mayflower, Southampton consistently puts on an excellent Christmas show – however, this year’s festive offering of Jack and the Beanstalk excels all expectations – it is simply stunning.

Jack and the Beanstalk tells the story of Jack, a boy who has to sell his cow because of financial hardship. A villain buys his cow and Jack’s mother is dismayed to find that instead of gold he has been paid in beans. However, these are no ordinary beans, and they grow into an enormous beanstalk that takes Jack to a world where a tyrannical giant is holding Jack’s one true love hostage.

Although the Pantomime retains its traditional storyline it has been tweaked with the most amazing special effects and 3D technology, making it in a technical sense incomparable to any other Pantomime I have seen.

Julian Clary is Spirit of the Bean – he oozes natural talent and his endearing persona has the audience entranced every time he makes an appearance on stage. Clary ad libs to perfection and is hilarious; his performance really is superb and he gives great value for money.

Nigel Havers is the devilishly evil villain Fleshcreep. I had wondered how someone so charismatic could play a villain but Havers gives an admirable and convincing performance and the audience connect with his character and boo with vigour.

Lee Mead is Jack, this being his first Pantomime rôle. He gives a good performance and his reprisal of the song from Joseph “Any Dream Will Do” is a real crowd pleaser.

Pantomime veteran Jeffrey Holland brings his years of experience to the show for the perfect choice of Pantomime Dame.

Special mention must go to ventriloquist Paul Zerdin who is an utterly brilliant entertainer and has the audience laughing hysterically throughout his performance. He is hilarious with and without his dummy Sam.

Robyn Mellor as Princess Apricot gives a good performance and has a lovely voice. Shireen Jordan is also excellent as Lucy, Lady in Waiting and Ian Gledhill is a convincing King Crumble.

It is without a doubt that the special 3D effects set this Pantomime in a class of its own – the 3D (provided by 3D Interactives) is incredible. From the audience’s point of view this surpasses 3D technology available in cinemas because this is live theatre. You feel like you are really there in the giant’s castle – it has to be seen to be believed. There is the usual 3D scenario of various creepy creatures coming at you causing hilarity and a jump or two, but it is the 3D scenes that are amazing; making the audience really feel part of the show.

The children are endearing and come from The Lindsey Read School of Dance – all cast and ensemble are choreographed well by Gary Lloyd.

The costumes are extremely elaborate and the lighting provided by Matt Clutterham creates a great fantasy atmosphere. Jonathan Riley is not only the writer of this hilarious version of Jack and the Beanstalk he is also the Producer and Director – Bravo.

The mark of a good Pantomime is not only extremely happy children, but happy adults too and Jack and the Beanstalk provides both in abundance. If you have to sell your cow for a ticket, do it, you won’t regret it.

It is interesting to see that The Mayflower is making this show accessible for all by offering a relaxed performance on Tuesday 15 January at 1.30pm. This is a specially adapted performance for customers with a wide range of disabilities and for those on the autistic spectrum. The performance will also be audio described.

Runs until 19th January 2013

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One comment

  1. What an absolutely fantastic afternoon, the panto was brilliant; well done to everyone for putting on such an excellent show – definately the best I’ve been to in years!