Writer: Andrew Pollard
Director: Rachel Gee
Jack and the Beanstalk has officially moo-ved into Lawrence Batley Theatre this festive season. Following the success of last year’s Robin Hood, director Rachel Gee returns with her latest offering, bringing back some familiar faces.
The story, true to form with some modern tweaks, follows our protagonist, Jack (Thomas Cotran), as he and his Mum, Dame Trott (Pete Toon), need to find some money. The two of them set out to sell the family cow, but Jack is tricked by Gru-sum (James Mclean), who pays Jack with magic beans. The magic beans help transport them to the top of the beanstalk.
The show encapsulates all the elements of a traditional pantomime, from the outset it is hilariously funny for both young and old audience members. Fairy Fortuna Fullobeans (Hayley Russell) sets the tone for what is to come, as the audience are introduced to all seven cast members, and it’s not long before they’re joining in with “ey up’s” and boos.
One of the great things about this show is that it’s a real local production. All of the actors have natural regional accents and the young chorus are from local groups; Adele Taylor Dance and True Talent Theatre School. It gives a feeling of familiarity and authenticity, as frequent references to the local area are made.
The songs interspersed throughout the show get the audience clapping along, familiar favourites include It’s a Kind of Magic, Footloose and Dancing Queen. Perhaps the audiences favourite was I Like to Moo-ve It performed by Pat the Cow (Emily Spowage), which was met with cheers and much applause after being hilariously performed by Spowage. The characters often sing in broad Yorkshire accents, but when they break into their natural singing voices they really get to showcase their talents, with some particularly beautiful vocal performances from Alyce Liburd as Jill and Hayley Russell.
The whole cast work well together, they all have elements of fun, warmth and silliness about them, even the baddie. This teamwork is what makes the show such a joy to watch, and you start to feel part of the team, even as an audience member. That said, there are some stand out performances: Spowage is a gift that keeps giving throughout the show, she is absolutely hilarious and it’s hard to take your eyes off her whilst she’s on stage. She is full of energy and has perfect comic timing. Similarly, Pete Toon as Dame Trott gives a high energy performance and doesn’t fail to make the audience laugh out loud.
This show is highly recommended for all the family. Whether you’re taking your little one to their first panto, or want a family night out this Christmas, you are guaranteed to leave feeling warm inside and having laughed your socks off.
Runs until 31st December 2022.