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Jack & the Beanstalk (Newcastle)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Jack and the Beanstalk is this year’s pantomime at the Journal Tyne Theatre and there is no questioning the willingness of the audience to join in the fun at every opportunity.

The production, almost, follows the traditional story of Jack wanting to marry the Princess, despite his family being so poor they have to sell the family cow. He also has a beanstalk to climb and a giant who is terrorising the village to deal with. Also, true to form, Jack is played by a girl (Catherine MacCabe) and Dame Trott by a man (Kevin O’Keefe) and there is an audience sing-along and plenty of silly humour.

Maxie and Mitch lead the humour as Worzel and Scrumpy but showing he has a strong future in pantoland is Charlie Richmond as Silly Billy Trott. Richmond has the ideal stage presence and connection with the audience that makes him everyone’s friend from the start. Likewise, Paul O’Shea is excellent as Fleshcreep, making the evil character his own .

But while the scenery looks fresh and new, the contrast can be spotted in the costumes which are uninspiring, especially those of the Princess and Dame Trott.

Director, Brendon Healy, keeps things moving along at a swift pace apart from when the numerous musical numbers stop the action. Fortunately Musical Director, Les Watts leads an excellent orchestra, which is a pleasure to listen too. But, a melody of songs from the War to assist Jack as he climbs the beanstalk and the numerous uses of "You’ve Got A Friend In Me" did seem rather odd.

While there is plenty to enjoy in this production, a few less musical numbers and more mayhem would not come a miss.


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