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Jack and the Beanstalk review at Lyceum Theatre Sheffield

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Evolution’s seventh co-production with Sheffield Theatres is big in every sense. Director Paul Hendy uses the Lyceum stage to its fullest depth, with Helga Wood’s sets adding stupendous spectacle and picture-book prettiness to the proceedings, especially Cloudland where Jack defeats a colossal, walking, talking Giant after climbing a jumbo-sized beanstalk.

Big on storytelling and strong on traditional pantomime elements, Hendy’s production brims with original comedy ideas, adding fast-paced festive freshness to familiar ghost, cow-milking and messy routines alongside a never-ending stream of running gags and large dollops of child-friendly dottiness – with some surprisingly witty adult double-entendres thrown in.

The entire company generates gigawatts of cheerful energy and singing power. Even individual chorus members and Aaron Francis’ inventive dance sequences are integrated into the plot.

With his mega-mouth “fat bloke in a dress” Dame Trot, Damian Williams brings topsy-turvy panto-damery kicking and laughing into the 21st century. Acting as a foil to Williams’ roof-raising rambunctiousness, Ian H Watkins is an utterly charming Jack, inspired in his giant-killing heroics by Sarah Earnshaw’s superb Vegetable Fairy. Madeleine Leslay is every child’s vision of a fairy tale princess. Andrew Fettes as the Giant’s earthly enforcer is every child’s nightmare. Brilliant.

Production Information

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, December 10-January 5

Author/director
Paul Hendy
Producers
Sheffield Theatres, Evolution Pantomimes
Cast includes
Sarah Earnshaw, Andrew Fettes, Madeleine Leslay, Damian Williams, Ian H Watkins
Running time
2hrs 20mins
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