Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – until 14th January 2018
Last year’s pantomime at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre was exceptional – this season they’ve only gone and topped it! Truly one of the best pantomimes I’ve seen in years, completely flawless traditional family fun with a cast de force who offered all the right ingredients for a terrific show.
Jack And The Beanstalk offered plenty of returning cast members who helped to make Aladdin a triumph, last season. Lisa Riley as Mother Nature, offering quick wit and sparkle, Adam C Booth as Simple Simon – I’ve yet to see a comedy lead to compare to him. Then there’s Ian Adams as Dame Trot, he’s got some killer costumes and he tap dances, what more do you want? Doreen Tipton has also returned, she’s managed to get off her arse and play, quite simply, Doreen. She’s a marvel and had the audience in the palm of her hand, definitely one of the best performers to come out of the Midlands. Doreen is actually Jill’s mum, but there’s no maternal interest there – more of a concern for child tax credit when Jill is swept off to be fodder for the Giant. I had wondered if Doreen would play the cow, given that she’s a lazy cow, no type casting on this occasion! Gareth Gates is a strapping Jack, his vocals are the icing on the cake and he’ brilliantly matched with Sarah Vaughan as Jill. Graham Cole tops it off as Fleshcreep and he’s a slick, menacing Baddie, an outstanding performance. Of course a special mention must go to Daisy the Cow, too! The Giant is spectacular too, I was mesmerised by him.
The set is glittering, elegant and frames the action beautifully. It certainly lends itself to a fairy tale setting. There’s a good, wide variety of musical numbers too – rather than focusing on putting every hit of 2017 in there, the songs are appropriate, relevant and they fit. From Rather Be to Just Dance to Unchained Melody. The script offered some original content, too, while some renowned gags felt all shiny and new due to their superb execution. For example, the Twelve Days of Christmas had me doubled up with laughter and I’ve seen that done countless times before. It goes to prove that the perfect combination of performers makes all the difference.
The auditorium was rocking, I was itching to give a standing ovation and it’s one of the first pantomimes I’ve felt I could return to watch again and again. Well done Wolverhampton – you’ve got a winner on your hands!