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Jack and the Beanstalk (Wolverhampton)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Christmas is just around the corner and in theatreland that can mean only one thing – pantomime! The Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton once again deliver an impeccable production, this time in the form of the hilarious Jack and the Beanstalk. With a cast including Sherrie Hewson, Ken Morley, Niki Evans, Keith Harris and Orville, the show was sure to be packed full of laughs and it didn't disappoint. The story is fairly close to the original fairytale; Jack (Ben James-Ellis) sells his prize winning cow for some magic beans that produce an impressive looking giant beanstalk in his garden. Living up the beanstalk is an equally impressive giant that wants to climb down and eat the villagers. Cutting a long story short, hero Jack chops the plant down and saves the day, marrying his love interest Princess Apricott (Sophie Brooke-Ford). All in all a great basic plot for a creative and entertaining pantomime. Sherrie Hewson is practically the character she played in ITV sitcom Benidorm, she plays up to the name of Lady Temple Savage, a terrific baddie for the audience to boo and hiss at, playing it brash and taking all the stick that comes with the token role. Treating (?) us to her rendition of Lady Gaga's Born This Way, she truly gets stuck into the role and doesn't take it too seriously which is perfect for pantomime. Fairy Fortune is played by local girl Niki Evans who is always a star on stage, whilst perhaps is more comfortable in musicals, this pantomime is a great way for her to showcase her vocals and sprinkle some Christmas magic over the show. A few jokes went over my head – something about Bilston Market to the tune of Copacabana sung by the perfect panto dame Nigel Ellacott (in his 38th panto!), but the locals lapped up the jokes.  The kids in the audience laughed out loud throughout Keith Harris's performances with Orville and Cuddles the Monkey, even if they did follow the same script of his previous performance at the Birmingham Hippodrome, nonetheless they were still funny a great way to entertain the younger members of the audience. If you like pantomime then you'll love Jack and the Beanstalk, the perfect Christmas treat for any family looking to celebrate this magical season with a festive treat. Jack and the Beanstalk plays at the Wolverhampton Grand through January 20.


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