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Jack and the Beanstalk review at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre – ‘grand, flashy spectacle’

Gareth Gates as Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre Gareth Gates as Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

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.

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Verdict
Impressive effects and a strong supporting cast energise this bland pantomime
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