Review: Jack and the Beanstalk at St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth

Gavin Dean and Tom Bailey are getting ready for Panto 'Jack and the Beanstalk' at Yarmouth's St Geor

Gavin Dean and Tom Bailey are getting ready for Panto 'Jack and the Beanstalk' at Yarmouth's St George's. Theatre. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Audience participation is taken to new levels in this version of the popular fairytale at St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth.

From the outset there is a requirement to shout and shriek and at times the auditorium resembled a Roman amphitheatre as a sea of downcast thumbs attended all the booing.

Panto is not for wallflowers, shrinking violets or indeed beanstalks on the night we saw the show.

The reluctant seedling failed to take root and grow – a prop malfunction with hilarious results that the able, professional cast were able to capitalise on much to the delight of everyone watching.

Here Simple Simon played by Gavin Dean with an endearing mix of shyness and show-boating proved himself to be far from stupid, revelling in the mishap and carrying it off with aplomb, helped by an equally accomplished Jack.

Staying recognisably true to the story Dame Trott and her two sons Simple Simon and Jack ('He's a girl,' whispered my bemused eight year old) face ruin and are forced to sell their prized and most valuable possession Daisy the Cow. On the way to market Jack is duped into selling the animal for a bag of beans. Although his family are decidedly unimpressed Fairy Hi Tops – a kind of gangsta fairy with a range of piercings – saves the day by making them magic.

It is a show chock full of jokes – most of them terrible as is the law in panto.

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There is plenty of slop, gunge, water pistols, sweets and an evil giant for young ones who engaged enthusiastically with everything that was going on.

An improvised section which involved the audience all shouting out their names seemed to go down particularly well.

All the leads are strong with Thom Bailey proving an outlandish and able Dame. Clare Durrant as Jack is the main singer and a super principal boy and there are no yucky love scenes to make the kids wince.

The all-singing all-dancing show is great value and great fun with a few whizz bangs to make you jump. The cast – including the Nabjab dancers - clearly seemed to be enjoying themselves and it rubbed off on the audience.

After a break of six years Jack and the Beanstalk is the perfect 'come back' panto for beautiful St Georges, hopefully starting a festive tradition that will grow strong local roots.

Name-checking local places like the snails and the market place and taking the opportunity to have a cheeky pop at Lowestoft make this very much a panto that belongs to Yarmouth.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs until January 5. To book call 01493 331484.

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