Impromptu, as well as cleverly-scripted humour – can this really be panto? Oh yes, it can!

Derek Moran in Jack And The Beanstalk. 

Derek Moran in Jack And The Beanstalk. - Credit: Parkwood Theatres

When I was asked if I wanted to review this year’s Playhouse panto, my answer was ‘no thanks’, because as my youngest son is now 13, I feel I’ve done my stint of festive shows over the years and they tend to be a bit twee, predictable, silly and well, a bit lame if I’m being brutally honest.

But then I remembered I haven’t been able to take my fiancé of two years to see any live theatre and his children had never been to the panto, so I changed my mind, and how glad am I that I did?!

Jack And The Beanstalk, starring Channel 5 Milkshake presenter Derek Moran as the titular character and Michael Goble as his brother Silly Simon, who also directed, is truly a feast for all senses, and what’s more, is, it’s actually very funny! It’s also clever, uplifting, Christmassy and extremely well-acted, even with the little glitches and errors you wouldn’t usually notice, but here are a wonderfully-welcomed and celebrated addition to the humour.

The sets are dazzling, the costumes fabulously glitzy and the undoubted star of the show, the giant, is an amazing feat of engineering and ridiculously clever for a small-town theatre to pull off.

Often, panto tunes are cheesy, but the show’s songs were on-point and beautifully-executed, particularly by Imogen Bailey, who plays Princess Tamara, who is an exceptional vocal talent, which is definitely not expected in a mere panto!

The ensemble was also fantastic, with the dancing flawless, energetic and mesmerising.

Also worthy of a mention is Richard Alan as Dolly Trott, the panto dame, who was brilliant, Colette Stewart, as the fairy narrator, Popty Ping, a difficult task she pulled off effortlessly, and Goble, who as the main comic character, was the glue which held the show together.

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Our favourite part was an acting out of The Twelve Days Of Christmas, featuring the age-old slapstick fail-safe, custard pies. This was absolutely hilarious and made us want to see the whole show again and again, just to see how different it is each time! This was closely followed by the usual ‘it’s behind you’ chase scene, which although follows the ancient panto formula, was made fresh by comedy brilliance.

I also loved a scene where all the main characters are behind bars, which was innovative and led to one of the most moving songs of the show.

The jokes are groan-worthy and topical, which is exactly what you want at a panto, and even the somewhat predictable ones (I can’t believe I still chuckle at in-breeding in Bridgwater after all these years of hearing it) are rendered worthy of a titter because of perfect comedy timing. I also liked that there’s plenty of adult humour to keep the grown-ups entertained, as well as silly jokes which had my partner’s kids chuckling away. My son also saw the show with his scout group and declared it ‘very good’ - high praise indeed, from a teenager!

So, if you’re looking for something to get you in the mood for Christmas, or need something uplifting to look forward to after the last mince pie has been eaten, head for the Playhouse, as you will be far from disappointed with this year’s panto offering.

Jack And The Beanstalk continues every day, except Christmas Day, until January 2, with tickets starting from £23.95. For more information click here.

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