Sunday, 11 December 2016

"Jack & the Beanstalk"
Nottingham Theatre Royal.
All three pantos in Nottingham this year have really upped their game, and strangely enough also seem to be shorter in length than last year. Whether that is the case I'm not sure but if not, the time flew by with each panto.
There are three stars billed in the panto at the Nottingham Theatre Royal, but there are two other very well known names waiting to slither down that beanstalk.
Chico plays Jack and I knew it wouldn't be too far into the panto before his big hit was dusted off and revisited, and we found out that it really was Chico Time. He hasn't aged a bit since his X Factor days and is living proof that you don't have to win the X Factor to carve out a successful career, you just need to have the X Factor, which he most certainly has. He was swashbuckling fun to watch as the hero of the day.
Tony Maudsley was wonderful as Dame Trot. His several costume changes have been more than he has done in the past but he looked magnificent at every change. Constantly reminding us of his role in the hit TV comedy "Benidorm",
From the Benidrm Babe T Shirt he arrived on stage with to the end nod to the TV show, again a great bundle of saucy fun, the sauce obviously calmed because of the kids but there were a few cheeky double entendres for us bigger kids to enjoy. I also loved his opening musical number which took you back to the days of the music hall.
I knew that Paul & Barry, The Chuckle Brothers, would be good fun. What I didn't expect was just how good they really are live. You think that they are stalwarts of kids TV but they are clever, they are so much more than that. Playing to their strengths of childish comedy, they also occasionally strayed into sauciness with the aid of a cucumber and a very comical X Factor audition piece by Barry, as Barry Trot, which certainly revealed more talent than we may have seen before!
They also got rid of the kids on stage section or the tired old audience participation "12 Days Of Christmas" musical number seen for the last couple of years and gave us a very funny "Goldilocks and The Three Bears" section with members of the audience. Fresh and funny. i have now revisited my Chuckle Brothers fan status, and my teenage son also chuckled along with me.
Gemma Buckingham was the gorgeous Princess Apricot, the love interest for Jack, and if you squint a bit, she don't half look like a younger Kylie Minogue, and she can carry a tune as well.
Princess Apricot's father, King Crumble was played by Ian Gledhill with some nice flirty interaction with Dame Trot.
The first of two surprises came in the shape of West End star Sarah Earnshaw as The Spirit Of The Beans. This woman has an amazing voice, as you'd expect, but she is also a brilliant performer, again, what else would you expect.
Finally, we come to the baddie of the panto, Fleshcreep, and he was really good. I love the villainous parts because they are so much meatier and Daniel Boys, yet another big West End star was just fantastic . The complete look of lascivious glee in his eyes as he prowled the stage, berating and threatening the audience members was the meat to this panto gravy. Daniel is hardly recognisable with his jet black long hair, moustache and beard, but when he sang to open the second act, his wonderful voice resonated into every nook and cranny in the theatre.
There was a nod to the "Phantom" in his opening of Act two with Daniel but I also felt that the whole show leaned more towards the West End than in previous years and, as a musical theatre fan, I loved the style and panache.
The ensemble collection of the younger and elder teams were, as always absolutely en pointe, and it's always great to see choreography, by Paul Robinson, performed this good by the age ranges.
It goes without saying that the sets are amazing, as are the costumes, wigs, lighting and sound, though there were times when the orchestra was slightly louder than the singing, maybe a tweak on the mics? But I'd be very petty to let something like that affect the enjoyment of a panto of this standard.
There's a fluorescent section and a 3D section, produced by Whizzbang 3D Productions, which worked so very well in this panto as jack and the crew ventured around the Giant's kitchen. It has to be seen to be believed just how effective this added extra can be to theatre. it's been seen before in pantos but, in my humble opinion, this was the best I've experienced.

I was also really impressed with the research done by the writers of the panto who included the names of many areas of Nottingham within the storyline, really making the panto localised.
The Theatre Royal Orchestra, musically directed by Allan Rogers were superb. i couldn't believe that only five musicians produced that swell of sound.
Brilliantly produced and directed and very slick and tight with great pace, which could be the reason why the time seemed to fly by.It's a giant success that will have you (s)talking about this show and chuckling for ages after you leaf the theatre and gone home.
"Jack & The Beanstalk" is bean performed at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Sunday 15 January 2017 ( P.S. there was no spelling mistake in this last sentence).

No comments:

Post a Comment