Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Jack and the Beanstalk, the Rock 'n' Roll panto

Peter Rowe
Clwyd Theatr Cymru
Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold

Lindsay Goodhand, Dame Dolly Dumplings (Phylip Harries), Sophie Byrne Credit: Phil Cutts
Dame Dolly Dumplings (Phylip Harries), Jill (Isobel Handley), Jack (Craig Mather) Credit: Phil Cutts
Fairy Aubergine (Lindsay Goodhand), Fleshcreep (Alex Parry) Credit: Phil Cutts

The first frosty evening of the season was as sure a sign as we needed that winter was well and truly here again and Christmas will soon follow.

However, that is not necessarily all bad news as it also means the return of Clwyd Theatr Cymru’s hugely popular Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto and this year Jack and the Beanstalk is the seasonal favourite that gets the full ’Mold Makeover’. I was fortunate enough to be accompanied by a nine-year-old panto expert who was delighted to give the production a resounding thumbs up after a rollicking two and a half hours.

Peter Rowe’s superb writing and direction ensures that the laughs keep coming for the young and not so young with a script that is packed with all the necessary risqué banter and some uproarious cries of “open the box”.

The casting is, as usual at Clwyd Theatr Cymru, exceptional but a special mention must go to Kit Orton, fresh from the outstanding Somewhere in England, who stepped into the role of Squire Snuffbox as a very late replacement. You really would not have known he had only been rehearsing for a couple of days such was the quality of performance and joy he brought to the role.

Local panto stalwart Phylip Harries again returns as the dame, Dolly Dumplings, and is clearly relishing every minute of the banter, all the more so once the 'victim' for the evening is identified in the audience. However, he is complemented brilliantly by James Haggie’s Billy and the appearance of either of them onstage was guaranteed to provoke laughs.

Alex Parry is a pleasingly menacing Fleshcreep while Craig Mather will prove a hugely popular Jack. Isobel Handley is very impressive in the role of Jill and Lindsay Goodhand is supremely versatile as Fairy Aubergine. The cast are equally adept as musicians as they deliver note perfect renditions of rock classics that ensure some great audience participation.

Having witnessed productions of Jack and the Beanstalk that have only included the giant as an off-stage character, it was very pleasing to see him make an eye-catching entry, to the sound of "We Will Rock You", to complement another outstanding set design from Judith Croft.

All in all, this is a fantastic production that is guaranteed to warm the heart during these long cold nights. If you don’t believe me, ask my nine-year-old expert—he wants to go again.

Reviewer: Dave Jennings