Hats off to writer and performer Chris Hannon and director Rhiannon Hannon. Together, they’ve created a completely unique panto offering – one that really gets you in the positive Christmassy mood and sprinkles magic throughout Wakefield.
The premise is a cute twist on the classic panto – the city of Quakefield is being tormented by evil Gretel von Greed (played perfectly wickedly by Victoria Nicol) who is threatening to destroy the town with her giant. The “hero” of the town Sir Bertie the Brave is played magnificently by Chris Durtnal, who has ace comic timing and nails the part. But our real hero is Jack Trott, played by Sam Nixon of Sam and Mark fame. He is such a sweet hero and I honestly can’t deny shedding a tear once or twice when he says goodbye to his best friend cow Daisy (Dai-Z).
Providing the laughs are Tilly Trott (Chris Hannon) and King Peregrine (Christopher Chilton). Both interact with the audience well and hold their own, causing rippled of laughter throughout the audience. It’s a tough order to bring in the laughs but both do a great job.
The shining star for me is Tracy Collier as Old Rosemary, who brings something totally new and special to the stage – a touch of wisdom and magic. It’s as if she’s orchestrating the whole tale, offering moral lessons and help along the way. This character brings the whole show together and differentiates it from other pantos in the season. It’s heartwarming and sweet and just what this time of year needs. All is not what it seems, and I leave the show feeling all warm and festive with a beaming smile on my face.
The band, lead by Jim Lunt, are great and the song choices sublime. We’re treated to musical adaptations, rap songs and pop hits as well as some classic favourites. It’s a properly lovely mix and keeps the audience entertained throughout.
With perfect panto set and costumes (designed by Mark Walters) and plenty to keep both kids and adults entertained, this is a panto you really need to see if you’re heading off for a trip to Wakefield this Christmas.
Catch Jack and the Beanstalk until 5th January 2020 at Theatre Royal Wakefield.