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Review: Jack and The Beanstalk At The Opera House is ‘hilarious, festive and fabulously entertaining’

Experience the magic of the Giant Pantomime Spectacular in Manchester's Opera House as Jack and his friends tackle the mischievous Myra Blunderbore in a hilarious twist on the classic tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Fee-fi-fo-fum, panto season has begun!

Between now and New Years Eve, a giant show is taking residence in Manchester’s Opera House.

Tailored to Mancunian audiences, Jack and the Beanstalk features a song listing off all the areas of the Greater Manchester region and various other nods to the city threaded throughout.

Pantomime in Manchester

Jason Manford

Head on down to find out what Jack and Princess Jill are up to, see an enormous beanstalk grow from magic beans before your very eyes, and enjoy original songs set to (very) familiar music as farmyard animals dance around to them.

Nothing else gets you feeling festive quite like a panto.

Audience participation is required (as expected!) and the first few rows of stalls get the bonus of being picked on by the characters – so be warned when booking your tickets!

Jack And The Beanstalk

Ben Nickless

The land of Mancunia (see?) is plagued by a looming, overshadowing bully – Giant Blunderbore – but Jack and his friends don’t let this stop them from having any fun! Rather, they decide to host a variety show to show the giants just how unafraid they are. However, not all goes to plan.

The meddling Myra Blunderbore, wife of this faceless giant in the sky, does not make things easy for the people of Mancunia.

In fact, her mischievous ways get the better of Jack when she captures Princess Jill – forcing upon Jack the ultimatum of letting Jill be eaten by the giant, or, selling all his farm animals to procure enough money to buy Jill back… this includes parting with his most prized possession, Patsy the cow.

Myra’s interference doesn’t end here, as her intention all along is to get her hands on Patsy.

So, when Jack comes to sell his beloved cow, Myra is ready, waiting in disguise as a talent agent for cows, promising to get Patsy featured on shows Strictly Cow Dancing and Great British Milk Off, and offers him some ‘magic beans’ in return.

Jack takes the bait before he realises he is victim to another of Myra’s crooked ploys, and all he is left with is a bag of regular old beans – yes, they are a trick too!

Without giving away too much of the magic (everyone knows how the story goes, right?), The Spirit of the Beans uses her power for good, turning those wretched beans into magic ones, from which the titular beanstalk grows…

There are five main characters that feature throughout Jack and the Beanstalk, and the actors who play these all have comedic chemistry on stage.

Jason Manford and Ben Nickless

The cast is as follows; Jason Manford as Jack; Ben Nickless as Silly Simon (Jack’s brother…do you remember Jack ever having a brother?); Myra DuBois as Myra Blunderbore; Samara Casteallo as The Spirit of the Beans; and Emma Williams as Princess Jill. The show definitively ticks the box of cheesiness, and it is perhaps characteristically under rehearsed – but that’s the nature of panto!

Anything can happen!

Essentially, the performance becomes a stand up with Manford and whoever else is on stage.

Manford and Nickless very much just wear the jackets of Jack and Simon – they are not convincing as these characters; it is more like they are playing their own personas within the setting of the story.

The script purposely employs wicked tongue twisters for the cast to trip over (and they do) and is also inundated with crude innuendos.

The show thrives off cheap laughs, and why shouldn’t it? It’s Christmas, it’s a night out with the kids, who cares?

The entire performance is seemingly low stakes, everyone (cast and audience alike) is there for the same thing, which is a night of entertainment.

Who says the cast must miss out on all the fun just because they’re facilitating it?!

An Incredible Cast

Furthering the action are a fantastic ensemble, which includes Ben Carter, Lucy Faye-Dean, Daniel Gooddy, Serena Piriarajah, Connah Walsh, Sophie Jane Walters, Oliver Ward, and Harriette White. Together, this team of thirteen dazzle and shine against the equally glittery backdrops of this pantomime.

The familiar songs in question include renditions of popular musical theatre anthems, including reworking Webber’s Pharoah Story from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: “strange as it seems this is a tale of magic beans…” and perhaps less obscure, Sondheim’s Giants in the Sky, of which the lyrics obviously don’t require too much changing.

The set and staging are spot on for this pantomime.

The fabric backdrops clearly depict a fictional, fairytale village setting, lighting and projections aid in highlighting specific parts of the tapestries at specific times, and while dance numbers take place a glittery, glitzy pink tinsel curtain gets dropped!

Patsy’s costume is stylised to look just like a cartoon, and allows her to moo-ve and dance with Jack.

The titular beanstalk has a grand entrance, when it magically begins to sprout from the beans, growing to the full height of the stage before filling out and solidifying prior to the interval.

Jack and the Beanstalk Tickets

Jack and the Beanstalk is on its Giant Pantomime Spectacular run at the Opera House until New Years Eve, Sunday 31st December (excluding Mondays) with matinees running nearly every day.

Please note the evening performances starting time is 19:00, half an hour earlier than what would usually be expected for performances at this theatre.

I highlight this because arriving late will put you at the detriment of the cast – who can and will call you out!

The run time is approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes but varies depending on how the show runs with audiences on the day.

Tickets start at just £13 and can be purchased here

There is a signed performance on Wednesday 13th December, and an Audio Described Performance on Thursday 14th December, which is also a relaxed performance.

Tickets for the relaxed performance can be purchased through a separate link found here

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