Magical, festive, silly and bonkers Jack and the Beanstalk opens at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre
Fee-fi-fo-fum –I smell the blood of the Stephen Joseph Theatre festive fun.
Expectations run high as the seasonal show comes from the same team which brought A (Scarborough) Christmas Carol, Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and the Snow Queen to the Scarborough theatre's stage.
It does not disappoint with a script by Nick Lane which is bonkers and tunes by Simon Slater which are cheerful and catchy – the finale song and Broadway-style Have I Got News For You being highlights.
Those expecting the fairytale in which a young boy sells the family cow for a handful of magic beans which grows into a beanstalk which the boy climbs to a giant’s kingdom and steals his money and valuables, kills the ogre who is menacing his community – thus saving his family from poverty and his neighbours from a fate worse than death ... will be confused.
Lane’s adaptation has a giant, gold and a harp – the giant also has a daughter, a guard hen and is a friendly vegetarian.
Jack’s quest is to save the giant from two people who want to destroy him.
So far from the original as any BBC adaptation of famous novels – and so far, so silly and so enjoyable.
That’s all you are getting in way of what happens cos knowing the punchlines to the jokes is like knowing ‘whodunnit’ before watching Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
A cast of five – Jacob Butler, Jessica Dennis, Sheri Lineham, Alicia Mckenzie and Loris Scarpa under the direction of Gemma Fairlie – bring the show to life.
Jacob plays the hero, eight-year-old Jake Spriggins and and Loris plays his nemesis, bully Danny King. The other three actors multi-task in roles ranging from Jack’s mum, Danny’s best friend, the giant’s daughter Jill, an evil neighbour and a guard chicken.
Alicia, dressed in faux feathers and a mustache, and air-guitaring a ukulele, brings the house down in every scene she appears in as Janet the Hen.
This is a Christmas show so though there is thunder, lightning and a threat to Christmas as we really want it to be, it is child-friendly, cheerful and Christmassy.
Though not a traditional panto – the audience is encouraged to join in, shout, sing and clap with the banter finding its level in the first minute. Instead of hissing the villain, the audience is asked to scream at the baddie the jibe ‘Boil your pants’.
Its message is wrapped up in festive hats and jumpers but still comes across loud and clear – that the differences between us are things to be celebrated and embraced. We all share the desire to be happy and can help each other. There is also a subplot about climate - but let’s not get too heavy about it.
What has also become one of the shows’ trademarks is the fact it is steeped in Scarborough-ness. Jack and the Beanstalk carries on this tradition – it is set in Scarborough, there are references Peasholm Park, Boyes, Eat Me, the Boxing Day Festivities of the football match on the beach, the raft race in the harbour and the mile of pennies ... and, of course, a mention of Danny Wilde gets one of the biggest cheers of the night.
The Stephen Joseph Theatre Christmas show is ours, we look forward to it and we treasure it.
Jack and the Beanstalk is a magical wonder from the opening scene and song Our Jack to its festive finale on falling snow and the song The Best Christmas Ever. The show is up and running, mum is wearing her reindeer jumper and Christmas is on its way.
It runs until New Year’s Eve. Tickets: 01723 370541 and online at www.sjt.uk.com
MORE shows at the Stephen Joseph Theatre here