Jack and the Beanstalk at Theatre Royal Bath
Posted on 12th December 2015Jack and the Beanstalk Theatre Royal Bath
11 December, 2015
Holy horticulture! This panto is full of beans and magical surprises, none more so than the amazing fast-growing inflatable beanstalk.
“How did they do that?” asked Charlie, aged 6, bowled over by the technical aspects of the production – the special effects of smoke, strobe lights, glitter balls and surround-sound booming of an unseen giant.
Jack and the Beanstalk – the tale of a boy who climbs a magic beanstalk to defeat an evil giant and win the hand of a Princess – is up there with the best of Christmas pantomime. This one, directed by Michael Gattrell, provides a traditional festive treat of silliness and slapstick, terrific songs, plenty of audience participation and a few age-old routines that never fail to please.
Stunning dances are a highlight thanks to choreographer Sarah Louise Day, who also plays Princess Jill. Youngsters from Bath's Dorothy Coleborn School of Dance perform alongside professional and semi-pro dancers, the little ones sweet as flower fairies, the older ones dynamically dramatic. A real treat.
Stars of the show are actor Nigel Havers as the giant's evil sidekick Fleshcreep, and Katy Ashworth – beloved by young fans of the CBeebies TV show I Can Cook – as Forest Fairy. While Nigel delivers self-mocking humour aimed at the adults (“I didn't write this stuff,” he says of groan-worthy gags – and there are plenty), Katy is a favourite with the youngsters as a delightfully dippy fairy.
She is upstaged only by pantomime cow Daisy, all big-eyed cute and a naughty, naughty cow.
David Barrett is great as the show's eponymous hero Jack, whose initial high-energy appearance on stage in the dance routine Up Town Funk gets the show off to a flying start. From then on he delivers all the way.
Versatile Bath regular Jon Monie plays Jack's brother Simple Simon, working audience responses with his usual inimitable skill alongside comedy actor Nick Wilton as Dame Trott. A full-on painted panto dame, her costumes are a marvel of colour and silliness – John Prescott in a frock, as Fleshcreep says.
Add to all this an excellent live orchestra, along with some imaginative scenery that effectively depicts both the psychedelic lushness of the magic beanstalk and the size of giant's kitchen, and you have a recipe for success as good as anything Katy cooks up on TV. The whole family will love it.
Jack and the Beanstalk is on at the Theatre Royal Bath until Sunday 10 January 2016. Call the theatre box office on 01225 448844 or visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk