6th November 2023
Pantomime is a staple at Theatre Royal St Helens and they couldn’t go an Easter without offering a panto to their audiences. This year, they recorded their panto on their stage. Jack and the Beanstalk is streaming for audiences to watch at home. Jack and the Beanstalk is a classic story we all know and love and this production is a fun and magical telling of it. With colourful sets and costumes, a talented cast and great songs this is an Easter treat for all ages.
Theatre Royal St Helens have a regular creative team and they always create a great show. Reece Sibbald writes this pantomime and his script is funny and keeps the story moving fairly well. Nothing feels too dragged out and it never feels awkward that there isn’t a live audience to interact with. Chantelle Nolan directs the production and she does a fantastic job at bringing out every laugh possible and incorporating cultural references whilst keeping the pantomime very traditional. Nazene Danielle’s choreography is fun and full of energy. The (uncredited) musical director makes all the music sound brilliant and full of oomph! The production is perfectly lit and captured really well. There is a good balance between seeing the whole stage and the whole cast at work, whilst making the most of being able to include close ups.
Timothy Lucas leads the cast as Jack Trott. He’s probably the most Scouse Jack you’ll find in Pantoland! He has a huge amount of energy and his voice is gorgeous to listen to. Olivia Sloyan plays Princess Jill and she has a great on stage chemistry with Lucas. Her voice is lovely and she has stunning costumes. The decision not to include the King in this version of the pantomime is a great choice as it gives the Princess more agency. She has more to do and she is portrayed as much stronger and more independent. I did feel this could have been played into a little more.
Reece Sibbald is the perfect comic lead as Simple Simon, and he bounces off Jamie Greer as Dame Gertie Trott expertly. They are both very funny and their expertise in panto comes through in the various skits. However it was a shame they didn’t have a live audience to bounce off and interact with but they still do a brilliant job regardless.
Abigail Middleton plays Fleshcreep, a villain usually portrayed by a man. It works brilliantly changing the character to a female! Her voice is strong and she is perfectly terrifying. Jenna Sian O’Hara is wonderful opposite her as Fairy Mary. Her voice is wonderful and she also gets the show off her brilliant dance skills, alongside real life partner Timothy Lucas. James Lusted completes the cast with a cameo as the Giant. His voice is booming enough and his appearance as a tiny Giant at the end is a fun addition and one I haven’t seen before.
However, as great as this cast is and as wonderful as it is to see a local cast, it does seem wrong in 2021 to see an all-white cast. This is of no disrespect to the cast, who are all incredibly talented, but it does seem a little short sighted of the production team to assemble a cast that is hugely lacking in diversity, especially after events that have unfolded in the last year.
Theatre Royal St Helens’ pantomimes are always a treat and this is no different, even if all in our communities aren’t represented on stage. It is brilliant fun for all ages and the perfect afternoon of entertainment for the Easter break.
The pantomime is streaming until 11th April 2021 so be sure to get your tickets here!