Wednesday, July 6

Jack and the Beanstalk – Panto Online

Produced by Jack Be Nimble and Everyman Cinema, Jack and the Beanstalk is uniquely, a garden pantomime! Filmed in the summer and featuring a talented cast, the production is being screened across 55 cinemas across the UK this December, providing a Covid-safe environment to enjoy our favourite festive tradition.

It is difficult to get the balance quite right between stage style performing, and on screen acting, but generally the cast get it spot on. The use of the garden space is excellent, particularly the scenes in front of the large house, and the fairy scenes in amongst the greenery. There are also some hilarious tongue-in-cheek comments about the beanstalk! All the best aspects of panto are included – a slosh scene, ghost gag, full musical numbers and an excellent song sheet. The dancing ensemble are sadly underused – there is some real talent there which is not being shown off with the choreography, and generally I found most of the music numbers a little slow and lacklustre, and certainly not utilising the talents of the cast – particularly Sam Ebenezer as Jack and Sarah Moss as Jill, who both had incredible voices which I would have loved to hear more of!

The cast are well matched. Peter Duncan’s experience shows, and he makes an excellent dame, with plenty hilarious quips for the audience. Nicola Blackman is a magical and warm garden fairy. But for me I was most impressed by Jos Vantyler as Fleshcreepy – a different take on the character from the usual panto villain, certainly living up to the ‘creepy’ part of his name and displaying quite the array of comic accents!

As expected, there were plenty of references to the pandemic, lockdown, and Boris Johnson, as well as some classic pantomime jokes. The production is professionally shot, with great quality sound, and even some special effects thrown in. Is it as good as watching a live panto in a theatre? Of course not. You will never get the same experience and atmosphere over a screen, although I do admit I was shouting and cheering along right from the very beginning! Given that most online productions this year will be filmed individually in actor’s homes, it is just lovely to see performers getting to interact with each other. I think they have done a marvellous job putting this together in such a unique way. Can this production save Christmas? Oh yes it can!

The production will be supporting six fantastic charities and youth projects: POhWer ( www.pohwer.net ), Clothe Me – Thank you (www.clothingcollective.org ), British Youth Music Theatre ( www.britishyouthmusictheatre.org ), Prost8 ( www.prost8.org.uk ), Scouts ( www.scouts.org.uk ) and Best Beginnings ( www.bestbeginings.org.uk ).

Reviewer: Poppy Stewart

Reviewed: 2nd December 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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