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Jack and the Beanstalk review at Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – ‘a joyful mix of comedy and music’

As producer, writer, director, programme seller and sometime actor, to name but a few of his duties, George Critchley must be one of the busiest people in pantoland. His efforts pay off here as he delivers a seasonal delight which, despite obvious budgetary restraints, ticks most of the boxes for a traditional panto.

Opening unusually with a Viking longboat scene, it soon settles into the conventional Jack and the Beanstalk tale, though the first half lacks pace at times and is a little too wordy to retain the full attention of younger theatregoers. That all changes after the interval when the comedy elements are ramped up, especially from Darren John Langford’s joyous Fleshcreep, while Keith De’Winter and Karl Greenwood have fun as Dame Dolly Dimplebottom and Silly Billy. Meanwhile the Giant, far from being fearsome, turns out to be a benevolent sort of chap who doesn’t like eating people at all – a nice twist on the usual evil big guy.

While this production can’t hope to reach the heights of some of the more costly and spectacular shows on offer in the region, it provides a largely joyous mix of music, comedy and audience participation as the age-old tale unfolds.

Verdict
Though it takes a while to warm up, this panto delights with its comedy content

Production

Production
Jack and the Beanstalk
Venue
Prince of Wales
City
Cannock
Starts
December 22, 2016
Ends
December 31, 2016, then Muni Theatre, Colne, Jan 7-22
Authors
George Critchley
Director
George Critchley
Set
David Walton
Lighting
Andrew Kennerley
Sound
PMA
Costume
Irene Whitehall
Stage manager
Mick Perry, Ian Collins
Production manager
Kai Fallon
Cast includes
Shorelle Hepkin, Nikki Horsburgh, Joshua Dowen, Karl Greenwood, Keith De’Winter, Darren John Langford, Ricardo Castro
Producer
PMA Productions
Running time
2hrs 30mins