Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

A real crowd pleaser of a show....

Jack and the Beanstalk

Qdos Entertainment , New Theatre Cardiff , January-03-07
Jack and the Beanstalk by Qdos Entertainment We were very definitely in Pantoland, electronic pantoland; the title of the show Jack and the Beanstalk, glittering in bright lights through the traditionally painted picture book scenery was almost dimmed by the many light-swords and twirling electric kaleidoscopes held in the hands of the eager members of the audience, and that wasn’t just the kids either!

Musical director, Mike Moorwood eased the first bright chords out of his very lively band, the curtain rose on the familiar village-green setting and we were away. Traditionally the first character we see in almost every pantomime is the evil villain, usually entering, always from stage left, through volumes of thick green smoke. When you think that The Pantomime is often the first experience of many very young children, isn’t there a danger that they might be scared for life and never want to enter a theatre ever again! No such troubles here tonight. Martin Marquez only had to place one of his very unprepossessing Fleshcreep’s boots on the stage and the whole of the packed audience were booing and yelling, making it almost impossible for him to get a word in. Then he told us of his wicked plans, made a feeble attempt at an evil guffaw and the yelling and the booing reached an even higher pitch. This audience was determined to enjoy this show right from the opening moment until the happy glistening end.

A banger banged and through a second slight wisp of white smoke, this time from stage right the good Fairy Daffodil emerged, without a Welsh accent. She greeted us with a big reassuring smile and belted out a song; Rosie Ashe making it quite clear that although she was on the side of the goodies she was not one to be messed with.

Richard Tate’s King Crumble was crumbly and Tony Wright’s Dame Trot was full of fun, they made a great daft pair producing many knowing laughs from both young and old. Danielle Corlass was pretty and delightful and put her numbers across with great, if somewhat uncharacteristic gusto. Undoubtedly the greatest favourite with the kids, Andy Jones’ with the first entrance of his wonderful Simple Simon was a cue for us all to enter into that great toy box of silliness that can only be found in pantomime.

Headlining the show, Torchwood star, John Barrowman, tall, dark, handsome and with gleaming white teeth was everything a Panto hero should be and a good bit more. He has a great singing voice and a good strong stage presence but his greatest asset is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He enjoys working as part of a successful comedy team and engages well with the young people as well as the not so young, particularly female members of the audience.

The puppet, Hen that lays the golden eggs livens up the appearance of the, not so very scary Giant Blunderbuss. Choreographer, Nicki Woolaston dances the show nicely along with her team of professional chorus dancers expertly assisted, as ever by Cardiff’s young dancing team of Olivettes.

We booed the baddie and cheered the villain, screeched with laughter and celebrated the happy ending of the story and readily accepted our invitations to the weddings of the Princess and Jack and of his mother and the King. It was a very colourful and in many ways a welcomly innocent pantomime. This type of show is almost beyond criticism, after all there is no denying that the audience had a wonderful time and went out into the icy winter fog full of ice cream, popcorn, lemonade and great good cheer. Nevertheless I would have thought a few moments of gentle beauty and amazing delight and a clearer understanding of how to relate to children would have made this excellent show even better.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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