BRIGHOUSE Theatre Productions’ pantomime, “Jack and the Beanstalk” is a vibrant and fun show, guaranteed to raise a smile and lift the spirits.
It’s a rags to riches riot and the audience has the assurance from the start that Jack will eventually get his girl, end up with plenty of beans and marry in splendid style. Unfortunately, his outrageous mum will tag along too. Happy ever after?
Freda Hiley’s polished musicianship opens the show and minor tones on the piano introduce Robert Longward as Fleshcreep, resident villain for the evening. He is true to his name and looks for all the world very much like The Joker from “Batman”. All too soon, he lets his evil machinations be known – yes, he’s after Jack’s beans. But, faced with a chorus of boos and hisses and a spot of magic from the good Fairy Moonbeam, played by Samantha Wells, we know he’ll get his come-uppance.
Much of the comedy is provided by Andrew Mann as the exquisitely dressed Dame Dottie Trot and her hapless son, silly Billy, energetically performed by John Murphy. An hilarious slapstick scene takes place in the King’s royal dairy where the comic duo get a job to earn some much needed cash. John’s juggling with eggs, cheese and cream is far removed from his day job as deli manager!
Dame Trot is ably assisted by the most splendid specimen of black and white cow called Daisy, made up of Katie Ridler and Chloe Middleton.
The milking scene is a joy to watch and it soon becomes apparent that Daisy doesn’t like her Udders–field but her milk comes out conveniently ready bottled.
The excellent Emily Bowers gives a strong and commanding performance as hero Jack who, as well as having a lovely singing voice, is also adept at keeping wayward mum, Dame Trot, in check.
Emma Newsome, as Jill, gives a charming performance, a fitting match for Jack.
John Hanson as King Maurice, proves to be a right broad Yorkshire monarch and perhaps the only king to greet his loyal subjects with the regal words “Oh ‘eck”.
He’s short of brass and we are told that “The Royal Mint’s got an ‘ole in it”. Seems the man responsible is the fearsome Giant Blunderbore, played by Ammar Hussain, who later adds Daisy the Cow and Jill to his ill-gotten gains, with the intention of eating them.
Andrew Featherstone is a good comic actor in the making and he gives a confident performance as Grabbit, the King’s servant, enabling the stage action to flow smoothly and he’s a good foil to Billy Trot.
The chorus is delightful and its snappy, synchronised choreography is lovely to watch – especially in the garden scene at the end of Act One when the beans grow to a vertiginous height. Indeed, the costumes and varied stage sets in this production are visually stunning and add to the enjoyment of the show.
“Jack and the Beanstalk”, produced by Tony Hiley and Philippa Gibson-Wriggles, can be seen at Brighouse Civic Hall tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7.15pm with a matinee on Saturday at 2.15pm.