Review Weston Playhouse Jack and the Beanstalk 2021
Young and old will love this perfect festive treat.
Growing up a big part of my families Christmas tradition was going to the pantomime. There was just something magical about sitting in a darkened theatre watching the glitz and glamour on stage, singing, and clapping along to the music, booing the bad guys and ultimately seeing good triumph over evil.
This year I was excited to be able to take my three-year-old daughter Paige along to the Weston Playhouse for her first ever pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.
The story is set in the village of Merrydale and centres around the loveable Jack Trott, who is desperate to impress Princess Tamara and make her his wife. So, when the wicked giant and his servant Fleshcreep kidnap her, he is determined to save her. Helped by his mother Dame Dolly and nice but dim brother Silly Simon he climbs the magic beanstalk to the giant’s kingdom in the clouds.
No one can argue that this year in particular a good dose of magic is certainly needed. The entertainment industry was hit hard by Covid and lockdowns, forcing doors to theatres up and down the country to shut for most of last year.
But in true pantomime style The Playhouse took the happenings of the past 18 or so months and turned it into entertainment. We had Bumbling Boris the giant, Fleshcreep who went out to buy teabags but ended up testing his eyesight by driving to Barnard Castle, and appearances from Chris Whitty’s flip chart and Nicola Sturgeon, as well as a round of applause for the hero of the story – the NHS. All jokes that were lost on the younger audience but elicited a laugh from the adults present.
One of the highlights for me when I visit a pantomime is always the Dame and seeing the huge array of amusing costumes worn. Dame Dolly, played by Richard Alan, was no exception, appearing in delights such as a cornetto, a neon green dress, and a dress covered in slogans relating to Covid. Richard was your perfect Dame, funny, over the top and appealing to both children and adults. And his banter with Leon, an audience member who was picked out of the front row, certainly made everyone chuckle. He worked well with Mike Goble, who played his son Silly Simon, with their enthusiasm and love of entertaining shining through. The custard pie scene was a particular highlight, with poor Mike calculating that in one show he has 45 custard pies thrown at him. Times that by three on a triple show day like today, and you must take your hat off to him! Also, he deserves great credit for the fact that he not only stars in the pantomime but also directs it.
Our hero Jack Trott is played by Derek Moran, who some might recognise as one of the main presenters of Chanel 5’s children show Milkshake. He was the perfect leading man, charming to the audience, relatable and a good singer and dancer. His love interest Princess Tamara was played by Imogen Bailey, who complimented him perfectly and had a powerful voice for all her solo songs. Gareth Davies was the perfect villain as Fleshcreep, and really seemed to enjoy getting the children to boo him.
As a big musical theatre fan I was delighted to see numbers from Chicago, Rocky Horror Show and Hairspray included, and spent most of the show singing along.
And as for Paige, pictured with friend Freya, well she certainly enjoyed her first ever pantomime. Her favourite character was Daisy the Cow, and she was so delighted that ‘Jack saved the beautiful princess and the baddie didn’t get to marry her.’ She also thought the costumes were ‘very beautiful’ and she wants to know if we can go and see it again tomorrow!
I highly recommend going along to watch it. Young and old will love it, and it is the perfect festive treat.
Jack and the Beanstalk is at the Weston Playhouse until Sunday, January 2. Tickets from £26 adults, seniors and children £24.95. Group and family rates available.