Jack and the Beanstalk

We have been very lucky this year and seen two Pantomimes – Sleeping Beauty at Bournemouth Pavilion and thanks to my Mum – Jack and the Beanstalk at the Mayflower, Southampton.

I was a initially a little worried as my mum had booked tickets for the evening performance, but I decided to let Eliza have a big sleep in the afternoon so she was refreshed and not grouchy.  Isaac had a snooze in the car on the journey there as it is a good 45 minutes away from home.

We arrived in good time, met the rest of the family outside (there were 16 of us), and ventured inside to our seats.

I was really surprised to be handed 3D glasses as we went in, and was informed that these would not be needed until the second half.  They did cause much amusement whilst waiting for the performance to start though.

Abbey and Eliza with their 3D glasses

The performance started with a large bang and a crash, which made us all jump and unsettled Eliza and on came Nigel Havers as Fleshcreep.  Eliza soon settled as we began booing and hissing, although the giants booming voice did make her snuggle in that little bit tighter!

Music and dance followed, with modern music that the kids could boogie along too and then we were introduced to the other characters – Jack – played by Lee Mead, his brother Simple Simon, played by Paul Zerdin who was ably assisted by puppet Sam.  Dame Trott was brilliantly portrayed by Jeffrey Holland (Hi-de-Hi) and of the the star of the show – The Spirit of the Beans – Julian Clary.

Jack and the Beanstalk is by far the best pantomime I have ever seen.  The cast were visibly having a fantastic time, the rapport and banter between Julian Clary and Nigel Havers had both them and the audience in stitches and Nigel Havers was a brilliantly cast baddie!!

Julian Clary went through so many costume changes that he must have been exhausted, but all were simply stunning – with sparkles, baubles, feathers and fluff.  Paul Zerdin and his puppets (he had Sam and a baby) were hilarious and gave some light relief at just the right times for the little ones.

The story was fast paced and easy to follow.  Even Day-Zee the cow had a makeover and did a spot of hip-hop dancing.  Lee Mead was superb as Jack and his voice was put to good use.  He did get to sing Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat, but it was interspersed with comments from Julian Clary which was so funny!  The arrival of Simple Simon, cued the audience to shout “Hiya Simon” at the top of their voices and hubby and I both got a little muddled as we’d previously seen Sleeping Beauty and kept saying “Hiya Harry” – Oops

The interval came and went and it was soon time for the 3D glasses.  Now if I am honest, this bit was not suitable for little ones, and we ended up removing the glasses from Isaac, Mollie and Eliza as spiders, snakes, gargoyles and more were jumping out of the screen.  I think the audience screaming and jumping probably unsettled them more than anything and it was very noisy.

The older children and us adults loved it though, and the giant was huge in all his 3D glory.  At one point it honestly felt like he was going to grab us!!  Thankfully the two 3D bits were long enough to keep us happy but short enough to reassure the little ones that it had all finished.

Probably one of my favourite bits of the performance was when Paul Zerdin left puppet Sam sat on a bench, just looking at the floor.  He stayed like that for what felt like forever and caused ripples of amusement from the audience who were expecting something to happen.  Eventually someone shouted “It’s a Puppet” and cue Sam magically springing into life.

The pantomime was the perfect length, had jokes for young and old to understand and the obligatory booing, hissing and “Oh no he isn’!t” “Oh yes he is!” moments.  The music was a little too loud at times for the little ones, especially when Fleshcreep came on, but that was our cue to make lots of noise!

Jack and the Beanstalk is on until 19th January and if you are after some fun, then this is definitely for you.  There are some fab photographs on the Mayflower website too.

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