OF course at this time of year there are plenty of seasonal offerings on show – but if you are looking for a panto with knobs on, then there is really only one place to go.
(I must still be in pantomime mode as I have never had an intro that rhymed before!) Jack and the Beanstalk at The Mayflower is a true feast for the eyes and ears and quite simply a heck of a production.
At times it had the thrills and spills of a theme park attraction, regularly it was ‘laugh out loud’ funny with good old fashioned variety entertainment, and throughout it had the musical polish of a West End show.
In summary it was nothing short of utterly marvellous.
Having been to the previous two years of Christmas shows staged at The Mayflower, it was a welcome sight to see a proper panto back on the boards.
However, it was anything but a traditional offering with a stellar cast delivering the tale of Jack’s quest to find his love, slay the giant and save the village – St Mary on the Turn.
I will get to the stand-out performances, but I couldn’t go on without mentioning the much anticipated 3D effects, which were brilliantly done.
The image of having a giant sneeze all over me will live long in the memory. It was a fantastic way of delivering the story as the intrepid band, led by Jack, made the journey into the giant’s cloudland castle, overcoming spiders, moving walls and a range of creepy crawlies.
It was so convincing, my fiveyear- old spent much of it cowering in the crook of my arm.
Running alongside the whizzy special effects, though, were fabulous performances.
For me, top of the pile was Simply Simon played by ventriloquist Paul Zerdin and his little friend Sam, who had me and the whole family howling. Julian Clary was at his camp best as the Spirit of the Beans, with a stunning array of costumes and brilliantly timed put downs, mostly levelled in the direction of Jack, played by Lee Mead.
The scene when they were suspended over Southampton docks was a highlight. In contrast to Clary’s opinion, however, I would have enjoyed more singing from Mead who was effortless in his ability to fill the theatre.
Throw in a dancing cow, Nigel Havers at his menacing best, a dame and a wonderful ensemble of step-perfect dancers of all ages and you have a corker of a festive show.