REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk @ Darlington Hippodrome

Posted on December 12th 2019 by Whats on Northeast

Review by Amanda Tutin

The annual extravaganza is a fab-u-lous (catch the Strictly reference?!) opportunity to immerse family and friends in the sequins and crazy antics of the annual beloved Hippodrome pantomime. Staged once again by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s biggest pantomime producer, and the team behind Darlington’s pantomimes since 1999, Jack and the Beanstalk featured all of the traditional pantomime ingredients Darlington audiences have come to expect in a fantastic new production of the well-loved story.

Now back to the Strictly reference. For those of you who are fans of Strictly Come Dancing, head judge and world champion dancer Shirley Ballas plays twinkle-toed Mother Nature, alongside Britain’s Got Talent winner George Sampson as Jack, comedian Phil Walker as Simple Simon, whose improv comedy skills were front and centre in this performance, and Blood Brothers actor Daniel Taylor as the evil Fleshcreep. Shirley Ballas said “This is only my second pantomime having been encouraged to give it a try last year by fellow Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood. I’m so excited to be appearing in Darlington and this wonderful theatre – the restoration is absolutely stunning.”

The cast worked really well together and even when there were a few lines fluffed her and there, the rapport they had was evident when helping out with corrections and making the crowd laugh at the mistakes. It’s hard to pick out my favourite parts of the show because it was absolutely brilliant overall, but there are just a couple that really need mentioning. The precarious pronunciation of the tongue twister had the whole theatre in stitches when there was a couple of slip-ups and the round-robin section towards the end with the pancake that kept dropping into the music pit and Shirley’s duster dance was so funny. Also, the dances were absolutely top notch, particularly the Singing In The Rain and dance-off sections. I’m not sure if Shirley had a (jazz) hand in that but the routines seemed more polished than in previous years. Even the costumes seem to have improved. There were a plethora of farmyard animal costumes, Dame Trot’s avant-garde pieces were staggering and to say the giant was good would be an understatement.

I could write about the show further, however, instead I’ll just urge you to go and see it. In my opinion, it was the best panto I’ve ever seen at the Hippodrome and the best one across the region so far this year. An absolutely super show jam packed with too many highlights to mention, it’s family fun at its best. The show runs from Friday 6 December 2019 to Sunday 5 January 2020. If you haven’t already booked tickets, I suggest you do as it’s a brilliant show suitable for all ages.

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