REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk, Forum Theatre, Billingham
If it's barnstorming fun, lots of audience interaction and a night of belly laughs you're after, look no further.
The Forum Theatre pantomime is back and it’s a mix of all that is good about this seasonal spectacular.
There’s a love story courtesy of Jack (played by Danny Walters who stars as Tiger Dyke in Benidorm) and the Princess (South Tyneside favourite and X Factor finalist Lola Saunders).
There’s an excellently portrayed baddie (Fleshcreep played by Kurtis Stacey - also known as Alex Moss from Emmerdale), and humorous moments galore.
How could you not love a show which features one of the best comedy pairings in the profession, the Harper Brothers?
And here’s a tip. If you’re still pondering on whether to buy tickets, do it for one sketch alone. Their parody of a certain television advert is laugh-until-you-cry funny.
There’s all the usual hisses, boos, and audience interaction, a wonderful custard pie-in-the-face scene and lots of modern gags.
Lola Saunders is a hit as Jack’s love interest and she’s as good at her comedy interaction as she is with her fantastic song numbers.
Tiger Dyke holds the main role of Jack well without overpowering the other characters while Kurtis Stacey is a fantastically-good baddie who prompts real audience involvement.
Special word for Craig Ansell who is back again as the dame, Polly Pott. He’s funny in a proper over-the-top way that a dame should be.
And local girl Victoria Holtom plays an enchantingly good fairy who helps Jack on his journey to win the heart of the princess.
Charlie Cairoli as the king and Barnaby as Barni never fail to attract laughs and we must not forget the backing dancers - all locals who deserve praise for fully playing their part in a great night.
Highlights for me included the Lola’s comedy fight with the Harper Brothers, the must-have ‘he’s behind you’ sketch, and the three little children who were invited on stage to be presented with Christmas presents.
But the ultimate moment is - always - whichever scene has my granddaughters booing, screaming or howling with laughter.
They pretty much did all of that for the whole of the night. Thank you the Forum.
* Tickets are from £16 for the show which runs until Sunday, January 8.
To book, go to www.forumtheatrebillingham.co.uk or call the box office on (01642) 552663.