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Jack and the Beanstalk review at Pantodrome, Newcastle-upon-Tyne – ‘a gag-packed script’

Scene from Jack and the Beanstalk at Pantodrome, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Scene from Jack and the Beanstalk at Pantodrome, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 2017

NS Pantomimes’ Jack and the Beanstalk didn’t have the most promising of starts. The first two performances were cancelled due to technical problems and one of its stars, former Corrie actor Denise Welch, pulled out at the 11th hour.

On press night, these issues are still in evidence. In the first five minutes a stagehand has to come on to push a stalled car and in the second act a backdrop fails to unravel so the audience can witness the backstage scene change. Meanwhile, Karleigh Wright – Welch’s last-minute replacement as Mother Nature – carries a script for half of the show as she’s still learning her lines.

Yet it’s not so much the production that’s the problem but the venue, a temporary building, which resembles a giant portakabin. Creating an atmosphere in this soulless space is an uphill struggle but the cast do their best with the help of Tom Whalley’s fast-paced, gag-packed script.

Although Emmerdale actor Adam Thomas as Jack is the big name draw, the real stars are Sam Glen whose exuberant performance as Simple Simon generates much of the show’s momentum, and Daniel Mawston who makes the most of his risqué lines as Dame Patsy Trot.

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An inadequate venue and backstage problems are largely overcome by a lively script and some strong performances