REVIEW: Full of laughs and singalongs, the Cambridge Arts Theatre’s Christmas pantomime is the perfect show for all the family

PUBLISHED: 10:17 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:17 06 December 2017

Holly Easterbrook (Jack) and Company

Holly Easterbrook (Jack) and Company

Archant

Jack and the Beanstalk is everything that a great pantomime should be - funny, heartwarming, full of unapologetically cheesy jokes and getting the crowd involved all the way through.

Liza Goddard (Fairy Beansprout) Liza Goddard (Fairy Beansprout)

Brought to life with a modern update - Uber, Twitter, Instagram and emojis are all referenced - the Cambridge Arts Theatre offers a refreshing, very 2017 take on the traditional Christmas pantomime to get everyone into the festive spirit.

With an unending run of cheesy but hilarious one liners, it’s a laugh a minute show; especially a scene in Trott’s Diner involving cream and slippery floors. There’s also plenty of politically topical jokes about Brexit and Theresa May to keep parents interested and - one for the youngsters - the panto villain is even partial to a bit of dabbing at one point.

Alexandra Waite-Roberts (Princess Kate) and Tony Christie (The King) Alexandra Waite-Roberts (Princess Kate) and Tony Christie (The King)

With show-stopping musical performances showcasing the main characters’ stunning voices - especially Jack (played brilliantly and charismatically by Holly Easterbrook, who played Dick Whittington at the same theatre last year) - there are singalongs aplenty.

Though chart-topping artist Tony Christie is undoubtedly one of the star attractions as the King of Amarillo (obviously) who loves to sing his most famous songs - it’s Dame Trott (Matt Crosby returning for his 13th year at the Cambridge Arts Theatre and his fifth as the panto dame - and its easy to see why) that is most entertaining. Flirting with unwitting male audience member Zac on the front row - even getting him to sing ‘Old Dame Trott’ on his own after bringing children onstage for a rendition - and basically any other man she claps eyes on, Dame Trott constantly steals the show - not to mention her seemingly endless costume changes (we counted six or seven).

Matt Crosby (Dame Trott) Matt Crosby (Dame Trott)

Simon (Robert Rees), described as “adorable” by his mum Dame Trott, has his heart in the right place, though he’s not the sharpest tool in the box his relationship with brother Jack is played out as BFFs.

The much-loved Daisy the Cow is full of expression and sadness when she’s sent off to the market and sold to the cunning and conniving money-grabbing panto baddie Fleshcreep (Stephen Beckett, who has starred in the BBC’s Casualty, Holby City and Doctors) who plays the role perfectly.

Matt Crosby (Dame Trott) Matt Crosby (Dame Trott)

Fairy Beansprout (Liza Goddard) shines, quite literally, in a sparkling gold ballroom dress, casting her magic alongside her three Fairy Apprentices (Sweetcorn, Spinach and Ratatouille, of course).

The supporting cast are equally brilliant, performing well-choreographed dance routines and letting their voices shine too.

Cast of Jack and the Beanstalk Cast of Jack and the Beanstalk

The action in the second half moves to Cloudland, where the evil giant - a massive mechanically controlled puppet - lives in his castle, and there’s a brilliant scene where trapped Princess Kate tries to free herself from Fleshcreep - all performed in keeping with the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s ‘Look What You Me Do’ as they trip each other up and push one another over.

It’s a great way of ensuring the panto stays relevant to popular culture; much like Jack and Kate singing Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ when they eventually realise their feelings for each other.

Stephen Beckett (Fleshcreep) Stephen Beckett (Fleshcreep)

Full of modern touches and laugh out loud set pieces, there’s nothing to fault here. So, if you’re looking for a night full of laughs and singalongs with the whole family, the Cambridge Arts Theatre’s Christmas pantomime is the perfect show for you!

‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until January 7. For performance dates, times and tickets visit www.cambridgeartstheatre.com/whats-on/jack-and-the-beanstalk

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