Last night I was lucky enough to watch Birmingham Hippodrome’s annual festive pantomime, the Hippodrome holds the biggest pantomime in the UK and this year they put on Jack and the Beanstalk.
I’ve seen a lot of pantos but this was the first one I’d seen at the Hippodrome and I was dazzled by the marvellous star studded show.
The well known story is told with spectacular special effects and impressive staging. I was handed a pair of 3D glasses when I entered the theatre and I was excited to see how they’d incorporate 3D visuals into the show. Unsurprisingly I wasn’t disappointed. As Jack led his brothers through the Giants lair, the 3D effects of bugs, spiders and numerous creepy crawlies jumped out at the audience as they shrieked with laughter and surprise.
I was particularly captivated by the spectacular moment when a huge helicopter flown by the character Simple Simon appeared on stage and proceeded to fly into the audience. Very similar to the famous helicopter scene in Miss Saigon on the West End, which proves just how grand the staging.
Stealing the show with her incredible vocals, Jane McDonald made her panto debut as the stunning Enchantress. She’s a regular on Loose Women and her witty and charming nature was brought to the stage as she captured the magical character with such charisma.
Duncan James took to the stage as the gorgeous hero Jack and a quick flash of his chest delighted the ladies of the audience. He was joined by Chris Gascoyne, well known for playing Peter Barlow in Coronation Street. He played the villainous role of Fleshcreep very convincingly, despite cracking a smile as Matt Slack performed some hilarious Coronation Street impressions.
Matt Slack was the perfect comedy character playing the ever so entertaining Silly Billy. Working alongside him to form a comedy duo was Simple Simon played by the exceptionally talented ventriloquist Paul Zerdin. He was my favourite character in the show because I absolutely adore puppets and he was truly hysterical with his sidekick puppet Sam. He made the show for me with his unforgettable performance.
The show entailed all the traditional aspects of a panto such as having a very over the top and riotous Dame played by Gary Wilmot, this being his 2nd performance as the Dame for Birmingham Hippodrome.
Panto wouldn’t be complete without the standard “he’s behind you” and “oh no he isn’t… Oh yes he is” that created great audience participation, however my favourite part was when they got the audience to all sing along with Simple Simon and invited four children up on stage to join in with the fun.
The whole show had me in fits of laughter but the Brum banter topped it off. The characters were constantly cracking jokes about places in Birmingham which had the audience roaring with laughter.
For my first Hippodrome panto experience I was enormously impressed. I’d recommend this show to people of all ages because not only is it a lot of fun, but it is a magnificent show full of talent. Especially the fantastically trained dancers and the stunning Robyn Mellor who played Princess Apricot.
Jack and the Beanstalk runs until the 1st of February, information and tickets are available here. Don’t miss out!