Harrogate Theatre’s pantomime has had an excellent reputation for many years, regularly earning plaudits from fellow critics. In more recent times it has attained an even more enviable standard and Jack and the Beanstalk is the best yet. Not a moment is wasted, yet there is no sign of undue haste.
Rachel Windsor, Katy Dean, Tim Stedman, Chris Clarkson and Philip Stewart in Jack and the Beanstalk at Harrogate Theatre Photo: Karl Andre Photography
Each character has colour and vigour and the performances are sweetly pitched. Philip Stewart’s Fleshcreep is one of the most engaging and wittiest villains yet seen by this reviewer. There is no nastiness in him but he is clearly the villain. His “come on, it’s alright to boo me” manner exemplifies his approach. David Kendra’s King Bumble is not simply there to make up the numbers, as often happens with his character in this story - he is active and funny.
Regular funnyman Tim Stedman makes his thirteenth appearance. His verbal and physical antics have a clear link to British music hall traditions, and his calm and graceful delivery means that watching him create beauty and fun in a short balancing routine - with just three sticks and his hat - is a moment of exquisite pleasure.
So much thought has gone into this pantomime, and so much endeavour.