The festive spectacular Jack and the Beanstalk at Mansfield Palace Theatre is a surefire winner with young and old this Christmas.
Held together by the comedic talent of the returning Adam Moss, back as Simple Simon “this year” – it could easily be renamed The Adam Moss Show such is his importance to the production – it tells the age old story of poor, impoverished Jack,played by Bradley Judge, and his battle up the beanstalk to defeat the giant Blunderbore and win the hand in marriage of Princess Jill, played by Clare Maynard.
It might not quite live up to the exceptionally high standards of last year’s five-star production of Peter Pan, but Jack and the Beanstalk still has all the elements of a great pantomime.
After the vegetabl-loving fairy, played by Casualty and recording star Rebecca Wheatley, opens proceedings, Adam is given the stage to himself – and it is a stroke of genius as the laughs come thick and fast as he shows his talent to full effect. There is a perfect mix of jokes for children and adults as he really gets the audience engaged and has the show off to a brilliant start.
From there, the story is told in fine style with some wonderful songs, stunning costumes – particularly for the excellent Craig Ansell, as Dame Trott – and topical and not-so-topical jokes, covering subjects such as Brexit and Strictly Come Dancing.
After a slow introduction, the classically-trained actor – another clever joke – comedian and former Neighbours star Mark Little comes into his own as the not-so-evil Fleshcreep, the giant’s henchman, with some great one-liners and a memorable Mastermind sketch in a failed attempt to prove he is the cleverest of them all.
In truth, some of the jokes are a little to close to the knuckle for a family audience – while the gag got a lot of laughs from the adults, trying to explain a shih tzu punchline to an inquisitive six-year-old afterward was not so funny.
All the panto favourites are there – plenty of “oh yes he does” and “it’s behind you” audience interaction throughout, a pantomime cow, as well as the audience sing-and-dance-along, all delivered by an excellent cast – special mention to Michael Chance, excellent as the forgetful King, and towering villagers “massive” Harry Cooper Miller and the slightly less tall Harry “Shorty” Lydon.
But what truly stands this panto apart is the 3D footage in the second half.
With 30,000 3D glasses in stock for the show’s run, every member of the audience is given a pair at the start and then told when to put them on in the second half.
Then giant Blunderbore – previously just a booming voice from above – is introduced as he blunders through his castle chasing Jack and flicking flies into the audience, leading to lots of excited and slightly scared shrieks from the watching children, before a fabulous 3D ghosts and ghouls haunted scene, complete with the requisite “I wouldn’t want to be grabbed by the ghosties” gag.
All in all, a night to remember.
Jack and the Beanstalk continues at Mansfield Palace Theatre until Sunday, January 7. For tickets, see mansfieldpalace.co.uk or call 01623 633133