The festivities have been cranked up to a high this Christmas with the Wolverhampton Grand’s glittering pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk. Bursting with laughs, the tremendous cast shine in their roles creating a glorious show for all the family.
There is nothing quite like a pantomime to kick off the festive season, and with a majority of regional theatres putting on a production, there is tough competition. However, there is something about the Wolverhampton Grand’s panto that makes me desperate to return year after year. It’s a show that is the perfect balance of a high-quality professional QDOS pantomime but still has it’s traditional panto roots. Yes, it has the spectacular dance routines, dazzling costumes, extravagant props, but it retains all the pantomime elements we all know and love.
With many of the cast returning to Wolverhampton this year, it brings a real sense of warmth to the show. Their chemistry with each other produces a really special atmosphere which the audience clearly love. Wolverhampton’s new favourite funny man Adam C Booth returns for a second year to play Simple Simon. Exploding with energy, Booth is exceptionally natural in the role and the audience are in absolute awe of him. He is excellently funny, and whilst he makes a few adult gags, he never crosses the line – something that tends to get out of control in many pantos these days.
Lisa Riley is back as the charming Mother Nature and her stage presence is what a lot of the audience will be coming back for year after year. Her energy and enthusiasm never dips as she guides the audience through the story with her narration. Riley completely captivates the audience every time she arrives on stage, lighting up the theatre with her magical personality as she attempts to defeat the evil Fleshcreep, the Bill’s Graham Cole, who puts up a good fight with his menacing characterisation and evil laugh that bellows across the whole of Wolverhampton.
It wouldn’t quite be a Wolverhampton pantomime without Black Country goddess Doreen Tipton who is playing her brilliant self. It’s incredibly funny having Gill Jordan’s dry, sarcastic personality thrown on stage with a bunch of fairytale characters – and it works ever so well. Ian Adams is perfect as Dame Trot, whose fabulous characterisation reflects his lavish variety of costumes, not to mention his masterly rendition of I Don’t Care. Adams has a marvellous relationship with his on stage son played by Booth and they are a truly hilarious pair. Gareth Gates leads as the handsome Jack whose sublime vocals blend beautifully with Sarah Vaughan who plays his love interest Jill.
Highlights of the production include the incredibly cute dancing animals, particularly the adorable tiny sheep played by the child cast. It all builds up to the big moment where Jack saves the love of his life Jill from the hands of the threatening giant, with the help of Julie Paton on the Harp whose stunning vocals send him straight to sleep.
Jack and the Beanstalk is a triumphant pantomime production that excels in every way. The vibrant and colourful show is enhanced by the stellar cast that give every ounce of their energy to create a memorable, laugh-a-minute evening of Christmas delight!