St Helens Theatre Royal
Streaming until April 11
The show must go on...online, thanks to St Helens Theatre Royal's Easter pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, which is currently streaming digitally.
The venue's Christmas pantomime was forced to cancel live performances mid-run because of Covid restrictions, and was put online instead.
This time, the panto has been conceived as an online production, allowing certain advantages to not being filmed live – such as not needing a front cloth to hide scene changes, meaning every set was luxuriously lavish.
Director Chantelle Nolan has put together a pacey production ideal for watching at home – complete with a 10-minute interval to stretch your legs or nip to get some more Easter eggs to scoff.
A warm-hearted and funny script from Reece Sibbald (who also plays the comic turn Simple Simon with easy charisma and charm) wasn’t dominated by Covid gags – something viewers weary of all things pandemic-related may well appreciate.
The likeable and talented cast have all been seen before in Theatre Royal pantos – indeed producers Regal Entertainments have almost got a rep company going for their regular seasonal shows. After shining in various supporting roles over the past couple of years it was good to see Timothy Lucas get the opportunity to take a leading role as Jack – showcasing his strong singing voice and comic timing.
Jamie Greer was a nicely irreverent Dame Trott, with Olivia Sloyan impressing as a feisty Princess Jill. Jenna Sian O’Hara was a down-to-earth, no-nonsense Fairy Mary (from Wigan!) while Abigail Middleton was clearly having a ball as O.T.T. baddie Mrs Fleshcreep. James Lusted completed the principal cast as a not so giant, giant.
The cast showed off strong vocals – with the show packed with pop favourites from through the decades. Musicals fans will enjoy a rousing rendition of Naughty from Matilda, and a jaunty version of Crash Bang Wallop from Half a Sixpence.
Most impressive of all was a mash-up of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins and My Old Bamboo from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – rewritten to pay tribute to the Frank Matchem-designed Theatre Royal, the famous performers who have graced its stage as well as St Helens and the surrounding areas.
Clearly a labour of love from writer Sibbald, it was particularly well timed given the recent news that pantomime producers Regal Entertainments have taken over ownership of the venue – let’s hope lots of brighter times are ahead for it, when audiences can once again come through the doors.
But for now, families can watch a cracking version of Jack and the Beanstalk at home at a very affordable price.
Jack and the Beanstalk is streaming until April 11 - for more information visit https://www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com/show/?show_id=873623581