Review: Jack and the Beanstalk at Nottingham Playhouse

Jack and the Beanstalk at Nottingham Playhouse
Jack and the Beanstalk at Nottingham Playhouse

“This is the first green panto - it’s recycled rubbish,” joked the star of the show, Kenneth Alan Taylor.

Memory man would be hard pressed to cast his mind back 30 years ago to see whether Kenneth is reusing any of the gags he aired when he first performed in Jack and the Beanstalk.

One thing’s for sure, though, Kenneth is a city treasure. The audience love him as do the performers, despite a couple being targets for his barbed ad-libs.

Panto dame, director and writer Kenneth is at the heart of the best scenes in the show. At the performance last night (Thursday, December 5), a large contingent of Brownies and Guides squealed with laughter as villain Slurp (played by John Elkington) got covered in water and shaving foam or spat liquid at the dame. Good, old-fashioned fun with nothing to make any member of the family squirm with embarrassment.

It’s a golden show which is apt given it’s the Playhouse 50th anniversary this year. Rebecca Little shines in the lead role as a sparky, engaging Jack as does Anthony Hoggard as Mrs Blunderbore, making him a worthy heir to the dame’s throne.

This panto has a very kind giant called Brian, a living, talking man mountain who is played by Daniel Hoffman-Gill. He towers twice as tall as any other performer on stage but his head looks a little too small in proportion to the rest of his body and may have benefited from more hair around it to bulk it up.

Like a box of Qualty Street, everyone will have their best bits and the tap-dancing rabbits are among the highlights for me.

The favourite musical item by far is the cast’s take on One Direction’s Best Song Ever; however, last night’s audience clapped along to virtually every song in the show.

Nottingham Playhouse is traditionally the first in the region to stage panto. This golden production, which runs until January 18, has set the bar high for Mansfield and Chesterfield who launch theirs this evening.