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Jack and the Beanstalk at Derby Arena – ‘dazzling and thoroughly engaging’

Bethan Nash as Princess Jill and Duncan James as Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk at Derby Arena. Photo: Robert Day

Morgan Brind is seemingly inexhaustible, writing, directing and designing for Little Wolf Entertainment’s outstanding Loughborough panto while also playing Dame Trott for the company here at Derby Arena. He’s educating a comparatively new audience in the ways of panto, and making a dazzling success of it.

This is a vast space, quite unforgiving when theatre was first introduced here. Little Wolf has managed to fill it and warm it, with big performances all round, good projection and happy engagement with a largely family audience. Flying sequences are magic on this enormous stage. There’s a very impressive giant and a winsome pantomime cow. The beanstalk rises magnificently out of a toilet.

It’s a cracking good script, too, delivered with impishness by a strong and dedicated cast. Brind has command of the stage (and the slapstick) in outrageous outfits that range from Rocket Man to a greenhouse and a Swiss Army knife. Duncan James uses his fine singing voice as a very personable Jack, Lawrence Boothman is the evil Cess Pit (“My uncle is Bottomless”) and Richard Brindley an energetic Simple Simon. Lovely performances too from Lizzie Wofford as Fairy Story, Bethan Nash as Princess Jill and Peter Kenworthy as King Dominic.
https://www.thestage.co.uk/pantomime/

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Verdict
A dazzling and thoroughly engaging family show, a big performances for a big arena
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