Writer and Director: Paul Hendy
Pantomime has a long theatrical history in Western culture and has been the go to show during the festive season for decades. This colourful art form (derived from classical theatre) in which actors tear down the fourth wall has delighted modern audiences for centuries. In more modern times, folk tales and nursery rhymes were introduced which become almost a sub-plot to the proceedings. Jack and the Beanstalk at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre is no exception.
From the fabulous glittery backdrop to the pre-show Christmas bangers, you know, even before you take your seats, you’re in for a festive feast of frolics and frivolous fun. Paul Hendy’s rip-roaring script whisks us off to Pantoland with a brilliant, bonkers and utterly beguiling display with all the necessary ingredients. Featuring a live band of 5 and a strong cast of 15, there’s even an appearance from CBeebies’ own Waffle the Wonder Dog, in a scene that can only be described as the funniest moment one has ever witnessed in a theatre. No spoilers here but look out for the weather machine gag and the sublimely ridiculous giant pea! Quite often in panto the ghost gag is over-egged. Not here though. This scene is perfectly timed with just the right balance of laughs and audience participation. Jack and the Beanstalk really is a laugh a minute – “oh yes it is!”
Like many young people, one’s first theatrical experience was witnessing the beauty of pantomime and, when done well it can stay with you for years. This is one such panto.
There are star turns too; Marc Pickering’s devilishly charming baddy, Joey Wilby’s loveable Silly Billy and Corrie’s own Wendi Peters as the glorious Fairy Sugarsnap. The real star here though is Damian Williams’ Dame Trott – now in his 15th panto for Sheffield Theatres.
Jack and the Beanstalk dazzles and delights from the start – children young and old will relish its musical bling and stalwarts will wallow in one of the oldest and most entertaining theatrical traditions. There is so much to love about Sheffield Theatres’ latest pantomime, and if you see only one show during the festive period, make it this one.