Saturday, 7 December 2019

REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk at the Kings Theatre, Glasgow

There is no substitute in Pantomime for experience and teamwork to sustain the energy, audience engagement and surprises for over two hours of family entertainment and I doubt there is a better example in the whole country of such as show as this Kings Theatre Glasgow production of Jack and the Beanstalk. Elaine C Smith is the Queen of Pantomime with twenty years experience and has recently formed a brilliant partnership with Johnny Mac who has fifteen years to his credit and together with a great supporting cast and magical special FXs they deliver a first class show again this year. 

Elaine C Smith is Dame Trot (this year) and her every appearance is wonderful. Dressed in a fantastic array of costumes designed by Ron Briggs and Mike Coleman she charms the audience with her delightful comedy and strong vocals. Her first entrance is fittingly over the top in a giant globe and an IronBru dress singing "I'm still working til I'm 69" (to the Elton John tune) backed by the lively ensemble of eight. She follows up with a charming "Talk to the animals" with the kids and ensemble in good animal costumes. She gets the audience to join in with "Its a beautiful day" and "I would walk 500 miles" and ends with a Cher impression. She knows how to hold an audience and to work with the other cast effectively.

Johnny Mac joins her as Jack in a confident thoroughly engaging performance constantly chatting to a lady in the front row while perusing the love of Jill. His comedy partnership with Smith is frequently centre stage as in the Trunk of Truth, a good Mastermind routine, an excellent chocolate basket sketch and with four dummies in a dance routine. They pack so much into the show although not all of it is made to fit the show as with a superfluous bed sketch, the now standard lip sync routine and an unnecessary audience CCTV scene, although they do ad lib well to the audience reaction. They are well supported by Jonathan Watson as King Hector in many of these.

The rest of the principals are also good with Naomi Cowe as a feisty Jill who opens the show with "I can be a hero", Angela Darcy as Mummy Nature who has a good battle with the evil Anne Smith as Mrs Blunderbore. Mrs B opens the second act with "Don't stop me now" in Cloudland.

There are also a number of excellent special FX from Twin Fx including a huge
giant fist to carry Jill up to cloud land, the large inflatable Beanstalk downstage right, a wonderful helicopter to fly Dame Trot up to cloud land and a huge Giant to fight Jill to the death. Each look amazing and bring gasps of appreciation from the faithful audience. 

The end result is that Director/choreographer Jonny Bowles seems to pack a great deal into the Two and half hour show with pace that never flags, excellent musical selection by Rick Coates and first class cast and brilliantly executed comedy routines. It is simply the best you can imagine and even when they borrow gags from other shows they make them better. 

Review by Nick Wayne

Rating: ★★★★★

Seat: Stalls Row L | Price of Ticket: £34
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