Review: Jack and The Beanstalk at the London Palladium

Director: Michael Harrison

Writer: Julian Clary

After two years of Pantoland at the Palladium, finally Jack climbs the beanstalk at the London Palladium

The production design by Mark Walter is nothing short of spectacular and expertly blends with Ben Cracknell’s technicolour lighting design. Walter’s design is a far cry from your traditional panto setting, instead, under the direction of Michael Harrison creates a magical place that takes you above the clouds, with floating castle turrets and moons and stars surrounding the stage. It’s a new style for panto but no less fantastical.

The costume design by Hugh Durrant joins the other design elements to conclude this spectacular production. The design of Julian Clary’s Spirt of the Beans costume are a sight to behold and joined with Cracknell’s lighting design creates a truly incredible technological achievement where the lines between lighting, costume and set blend together at the end of Act One. It creates one of many wow moments of sheer extravagance and beauty.

The spectacle is complete by not one but four giants in total by The Twins FX, three of which reach the top of the proscenium arch, but the fourth bellows over the audience. The star of the show, however, has to be gigantic beanstalk. It tears through the stalls of the Palladium and reaches the roof. It’s an incredible achievement and is sure to amaze audiences both young and old who won’t forget the moment in a hury. A shout put to the crew who control it every performance, too.

Clary’s script focuses heavily on comedy and is sure to entertain an adult crowd with ease. With double entendre, innuendo it sometimes finely walking the line between panto fun and adult content. While it makes you laugh out loud consistently, it’s does come at a cost. The story comes secondary to comedy stints and sketches and while there are staple scenes like a songsheet, audience participation and corny wedged in songs, theres very little in the form of focus on Jack and Jill, their blossoming love and Jack’s journey up the Beanstalk.

That said, with Alexandra Burke as Mrs Blunderbore, you still get a villain you love to boo and one that has incredible stage presence and a voice to match.

Paul Zerdin brings most of the family friendly humour. The younger audience will be sure to love his fuzzy yet naughty friends. Rob Madge also creates the sassy and witty Pat the Cow. Madge is a panto pro with their timing and lovable yet funny character.

Gary Wilmont brings a sense of stability and calm to the proceedings. Wilmont leads the way in many panto sketches but could have been utilised more.

Nigel Havins is the buck of many jokes, while Dawn French as Dame Trot concludes the star cast. When French, Clairy, and Zerdin are all on stage the laughs never stop, but with such a large company of talented comedians, this is why there is little time for the development of the story. At the home of variety, this productions’ heart is instead on variety and saucy humour, rather than creating a funny yet magical delve into the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Lois Gaunt works with what he has in the role or Jack and is a leading man in every single way. He is joined with Natalie McQueen as Princess Jill. It really is a shame not to allow them both some more time to centre the production in the panto world. Nevertheless, both McQueen and Gaunt give the best they can content they’ve even given, and both showcase their strong vocal ability and natural charm.

The large company is joined by an equally large emsemble that fills the Palladium stage. From high quality, high energy musical numbers featuring choreography by Karen Bruce and crazy characters they never stop.

The Palladium Panto is a visually stunning delight and an incredible night out. With spellbinding designs in all the creative elements it’s easy to proclaim the Palladium Panto is the largest in the land. However, with a focus towards creating a fun filled, hilarious night out full of variety rather than a family panto full of humour it may not be for everyone’s taste. If you are wanting a panto filled with humour and story, this may not be the production for you. However,if you’re wanting a night out with work colleagues or friends, this will have you rolling in the aisles while being amazed at the special effects.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Value for Money Comments:
A small but mighty cast pull off a reasonably priced panto priced between £12 and 30 with live streaming available for £20.

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