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Jack and the Beanstalk (King's Lynn)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Traditional and for the family is how this pantomime, the first professional one to be staged at the King’s Lynn Corn Exchange, is billed. One undoubted star is Clarabelle, Dame Trott’s cow – a bovine who gives a new meaning to the word “hoofer” as she joins in the dance numbers. The theatre suffers from the usual problem of such converted buildings, with a wide stage without a great deal of depth or height. So the settings are simple and storybook-influenced but the costumes and performances compensate.

That said, the magic beanstalk is very well handled, a monstrous growth materialising from the pit. So too is Giant Blunderbore, voiced by Herbert James and looking as though he might be a distant cousin of a certain BFG. Jack is played by Tracey Penn in fine thigh-slapping Principal Boy mode and voice; the duets with Isobel Hathaway as Princess Jill still the house. Ian Marr, who also directs Chris Jordan’s script, is an assured Dame with some costumes to match; I particularly liked the baked-beans tin with Elizabethan ruff and the lit-up Christmas tree for the finale.

Immortals are a Norfolk-accented Fairy Fuchsia played by Karen Mann who blows a well-tuned trumpet in opposition to John Alyman as Fleshcreep, all malevolent black, green and purple and attended by some extremely agile bluebottles. The other comic parts are those of Simple Simon (Scott Cripps) and King Cuthbert (Steven Pinder) who revel in all the traditional gags, including the pancake-baking and “he’s behind you”. The kingdom of Stoneybroke is worth a visit, even allowing for a recession.


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