Review: Jack and The Beanstalk. Kristian Thomas Company

For a high-quality amateur pantomime where the technical aspects are faultless including the all-important sound and lighting you couldn’t ask for a better show than Kristian Thomas Company’s excellent Jack And The Beanstalk. It is playing at the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton until Saturday 3rd December. The Kristian Thomas shows have a deserved renown for top quality entertainment so sell out quickly. Book your tickets now.

This panto is one of the kind where the story is the king and not just a pretty show with a weak story and plenty of filler songs. This locally based version of Jack and The Beanstalk has got the balance just right. Setting the tale in a panto version of nearby Elvaston Village, the setting and jokes are ripe for the usual light-hearted dismissive attitudes towards the city of Derby and its inhabitants and even their flat vowelled accents. Which actually, Me Ducks, isn’t that different from a broad Nottinghamshire accent.

Kristian Cunningham has co-directed and produced this super panto written by James Peake and Cunningham himself. It is co-directed by Tom Samuels, well-choreographed by Lydia Thacker and musically directed by Tom Bond. The afore-mentioned superb lighting and pin sharp sound are by designers James Cladingboel and Harry Greatorex. The costumes are inventive and colourful and the final wedding scene is a treat for the eyes and ears.

The uniformly excellent company are Natasha Cartwright (Fairy Fall), Sian Scattergood-Grantham (Madame Mouldspore), James Breen (Young Jack), Effie Lennon Ballard (Young Jill), Anthony Beaumont-Mills (Jack Trott), Emily Corner and Millie Gilks (Mimsy the Cow), Megan Singleton (Jill), Lu Anthony (Loopy Lou), Kheenan Jones (Duke Luke), Chris Grantham (Dame Arabbiatta Trott), David Page (Ryan Gosling), Ella Greenwood (Sharpay) and Bailey West (Giant Grot Snot MaGoo). The equally excellent female adult company consists of Abbie Faulkner, Bethany Neville, Francesca Foster, Gabby Tempest, Helen Perry, Lydia Thacker, Naomi King and Reema Frost. Tonight, the technically good and enthusiastic young company is Team Runner Bean. Jack And The Beanstalk delights right across the board. For an audience who want to support amateur talent and also benefit from inexpensive admission tickets in a nice venue, this pantomime is indeed, just the ticket.

If I am being critical I would say that a few of the verbal jokes don’t land (work) down to a mix of odd subject matter, slow or quiet delivery and unexpected contemporary references within the body of a traditional panto where the subject or object of the wit wasn’t well known by the audience at large. There are plenty of jokes that work however both verbal and physical.

Jack And The Beanstalk’s major highlights are the singing and dancing/movement by the adult company and Runner Bean young team, Chris Grantham’s butch-voiced and very funny Dame, Lu Anthony’s knock-about comedy, Natasha Cartwright’s down to Earth and beautifully sung Fairy Fall, Sian Scattergood- Grantham’s evil Madame Moulspore whose performance wouldn’t look out of place on a professional stage, and David Page’s very camp Ryan Gosling. Surprisingly Jack Trott and Jill don’t have as much on-stage time as the story allows but both Anthony Beaumont-Mills and Megan Singleton do put in very polished and likable performances. Singleton gets to show how her strong-willed Jill breaks tradition and wants to make herself an independent living after her degree at Derby University not just be given an easy life by her dad the Duke.

Like in many a panto these days, contemporary pop songs and songs from musicals feature in Jack and The Beanstalk including ‘When I grow up/Naughty’, ‘World of Our Own’, ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’, ‘Bop to The Top/Let’s Get Loud’ and the finale songs ‘Allergies (a parody song)’ and ‘Wings’. Overall, Jack And The Beanstalk is a hugely fun and well-produced and acted show making excellent use of the spaces at The Duchess Theatre and Chatsworth Arts Centre in Long Eaton. We can’t wait to be back for the musical Rent 25-28 January 2023.

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