Jack and the Beanstalk (Bournemouth)

After last year’s hugely successful Cinderella, I had high hopes for UK Production’s 2011 Bournemouth pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, which opened on 3 December at the town’s Pavilion Theatre, and runs until 2 January 2012.

The fact that I am slightly disappointed probably has everything to do with the material – Jack has never been a favourite panto of mine, perhaps lacking the magical qualities of Cinderella and some of the more spectacular elements of other seasonal offerings.

The cast certainly are faultless, and work very hard to inject plenty of Christmas cheer. CBeebies star and local lad Chris Jarvis – hopefully now a permanent fixture at the Bournemouth panto – is good value as always; his natural charm and warm, cheeky personality enchants the audience young and old. Also directing the show Chris in his role as Silly Billy brings much of the comedy and keeps the story flowing at a fare pace. Debra Stephenson’s quick fire impressions makes Jack lots of fun too, and Brian Capron makes a text book panto villain, as the Giant’s evil henchman Fleshcreep.

Nick Wilton in the guise of Dame Trott, is superb – a really classy dame – and Kate Weston (Fairy Bubbles), Marcus Knibbs (The King) and Rebecca Marks (Princess) provide excellent support.

The sets and costumes are eye-catching and in most parts hit the spot – although the beanstalk itself is a little underwhelming, and the giant less “Harry Potter” and more ‘It’s a Knockout’ – but you can’t go wrong with Daisy – a first class cow if ever I saw one!

Full of topical and fruity gags to please the adults – including plenty of crowd pleasing local references – and all the traditional elements to amuse and bedazzle the kiddies, Jack and the Bean stalk is set to be another sure-fire winner for the festive season.