All singing, all dancing and an all out effort maintaining the Playhouse tradition of fantastic music and fabulous show. Plus all the old favourites, aka plot devices and props: insouciant ad-libbing, bizarre costumes, dead unlucky Sean picked on etc, spearheaded by redoubtable comedy duo, Adam Keast and Francis Tucker (tho he may have spoiled the illusion at the end, wearing his bra outside his clothes…).
With them, come Ernie and Arthur, Mary (from the Dairy, Jack’s Mum) and Martha, and a barrel full of laughs. Familiarity in this instance breeds contentment and if formulaic, it’s joyously familial though Mummy and Daddy may have some awkward explanations to make due to the occasional Xxxx factor.
From the smoke and mirrors department, some neat touches, from the nifty realization of the giant to the little bat flitting across whenever villainess Esmeralda puts in an appearance (Marianne Benedict, doubling up as heroine Betsy Bubbles). There’s more than a nod to the Wizard of Oz; part of Jack’s quest is to free the land above the Beanstalk, or they’d be has-beens; sorry, it’s catching.
Aretha Ayeh as Alana and Toby Lord as Jack make a pretty pair, complemented, sort of, by Esmeralda and dastardly villain, Cuthbert the Cad, played with snarling panache by Griffin Stevens. The audience certainly had a soft spot for the ever so cute Pat the Cow, Carla Freeman, who also turns up as Wonder Woman to save the day - along with Mr Spock (Matthew Ganley); don’t ask.
No, don’t ask, just run along and see for yourself. And yes, an extra star for the sheer cheek of it all, saluting the 11th offering from Sarah A. Nixon and Mark Chatterton.