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Jack and the Beanstalk (Stockport)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Stockport Plaza have produced their traditional family pantomime - Jack and the Beanstalk, for the festive season; and it's very entertaining, especially for the little ones.

The show opens with the classic scene-setting contrast between good (Fairy Vegetable) and evil (Bella Donna) played by Penny Clarke and Claire Sweeney respectively. Clarke is a cute, likeable character and later proves to have an excellent voice; Sweeney however, while looking stunning, is much harder to hear and therefore some of her clever rhyming verse is indistinct.

Craig Perry's protagonist -Jack is personable and the actor carries his role well. His 'love interest' Princess Rosalinde, played by Lucia Matisse, is lovely looking - but seems to lack a little of the conviction necessary for the principle girl.

However, the show is stolen by Mick Dundee as Simple Simon (Jack's brother) and Steve Luck as an over-the-top Dame Durden. Luck is a natural comic and plays the dame with all the inevitable double- and single-entendres possible. Dundee creates a warm rapport with the audience, especially the children, and creates the most laughs and interaction.

Paul Shane as King Ethelred is nicely underplayed but he looks frail which I found distracting. Peter Goode doubles up as the giant and pie man and there are five dancers supported by children and teenagers from the Vale School of Dance and Drama.

Directors David Vickers and Richard Chandler have kept the production as a truly family-orientated show. There are a few nudges to the Stockport location, but mostly the script sticks to material that will keep the whole audience entertained.

If you're looking for a great family show which gains laughs from the youngest to oldest members of the family, then take a trip to the Stockport Plaza, as this one proves to be a winner.

- Helen Jones


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