Jack and the Beanstalk review at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre – ‘grand, flashy spectacle’
Colourful and competently delivered, Alan McHugh’s Jack and the Beanstalk is a lavish, fun but frequently flat affair. Director David Janson livens things up with some particularly anarchic set pieces – one impeccable slapstick sequence, set to Bryan Adams’ Everything I Do, sees characters fighting comically for the limelight.
Adam C Booth provides most of the show’s humour as sidekick Simon, specialising in long chains of rapid-fire punning and genuinely impressive tongue twisters. Meanwhile, Doreen Tipton – who won best newcomer at this year’s Great British Panto Awards – is amusing if underused. Accomplished singer Gareth Gates makes a perfectly serviceable lead as Jack, a gentle, self-effacing presence who visibly relaxes into the musical numbers.
Graham Cole plays things absolutely straight as villainous underling Fleshcreep, snarling and sinister even while belting out a distorted version of ‘I Need a Hero’. When his Giant master finally appears, it comes in the form of a satisfyingly monstrous puppet which fills the whole stage.
The sets, by Hugh Durrant, are equally extravagant, bright, multi-layered constructions filled with pretty details. Like the pyrotechnics which frequently erupt during the performance, this production is a grand, flashy spectacle, which remains entertaining even if it lacks substance.