Jack and The Beanstalk at Derby Arena Review

8 December 2018 to 5 January 2019

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Reviewed by Anthony and Tammy Wildblood

We were asked to do the review of the pantomime Jack & The Beanstalk at Derby Arena, which is known in the city as the cycle track, but on certain nights and weeks, can be turned into an event and on this occasion it was for the pantomime. If you didn’t know the area you would never have guessed that this place is used for cycling as the stage production team do an amazing job in transforming the cycle track into a theatre for a pantomime and making it an intimate surrounding. You can park in various places around pride park but for an event you can park on the arena car park itself, for a small charge of £3 which isn’t too bad, but make sure you give yourself enough time to park as it can get busy.

You walk into the arena where they are selling merchandise for £5 which can be a flashing sword, flashing spinning ball, a wand or a flashing turning wheel, a bit expensive for what they are but the kids love them and the whole arena is plastered with them. As for a drinks, it’s not bad for an event as a pint will cost you £4.50, a box of chocolates £2 and for a coffee £2.50.  We have been to theatres and they can be a lot more.

What I will say though is to find your own way to your seats as each isle is clear to what letter it is and what number are on the seats but for some reason some staff didn’t seem to know and were directing people to the incorrect seats.

Sitting down in our seats waiting for the show to begin, the stage is brightly set out in bold colours which are good for the children as it kind of gets their attention. FEE FO FI THUMB, DERBY IS IN FOR SOME PANTO FUN, out pops fairy godmother to start the show off, and after a while of looking up to the sky she must of realised that something was wrong and in true panto style improvisation sets in and she handled the error very well by cracking jokes and getting the audience to laugh with her, and the audience loved it, FEE FO FI THUMB, DERBY STARTS THE PANTO FUN AGAIN!!! We set off again and this time everything works to the relief of the fairy godmother.

It’s not long before we meet our very own bad guy CESSPIT (Lawrence Boothman) who I have to say was one of our favourite characters in the performance, he instantly got the crowd to not like him by cracking jokes about Derby and the surrounding towns around, along with FRANK LAMPARD, but for me I loved them, should of and could of been more jokes as I found each and every one really funny, so please add more joke’s especially for the adults.

Then we go on the journey into meeting JACK, SIMON his brother and then his MOTHER, the DAME.

JACK who we know is played by Duncan James who is highly popular with the audience as he was an ex member of the boy band ‘Blue’ and also been in Hollyoaks, some might say he is excellent at singing and acting and other might say otherwise. I would have to admit throughout the show he showed some qualities that made him the star he was, then there were other times that I felt other people overpowered him even though he was meant to be the number 1 star of the show. I just wasn’t sure about his performance on the night just felt it could have been a little better as he is the star.

Dame Trott played by Morgan Brind, oh my word this is how you make panto work, he/she was quality throughout the show, and cracking joke after joke had everyone in stitches with laughter, the costume changes where unbelievable to say how many they had to change into. I could just watch them all day long on the stage you wouldn’t get bored at all.  This is who we feel is the heartbeat of the panto, and everyone else just flows and works of him. As I said before, the costumes are just world class and you can tell the effort has gone into them.

As I mentioned before, Cesspit who is played by Lawrence Boothman plays the villain to perfection and was superb all show, he had creepiness, swagger, humour, silly behaviour which in turn will suit all ages in the audience but some little ones maybe a little scared but the facial expressions on the guy, you just couldn’t take your eyes off him, every moment was just on point.

Act 1 is hot paced and some little ones who are young may struggle to understand what’s going on or being said, because I did at times.

Act 2 though on the other hand was beautifully written and produced, from the singing to the dancing and what was the most impressive thing in the act was when the giant came on stage. We weren’t expecting a real giant! It was something special and something you don’t see every day, it was spectacular! As for the dancing, the part we found magnificent was in act two when the Michael Jackson melodies burst out, that was a high-quality piece of written script and perfectly performed on stage. You could just see that everyone involved in that part loved it and loved doing it. As for the gags, the picture frame shredding which was obviously to do with Banksy, some people got it others didn’t, but then again it wasn’t a big deal as it was still amazing!

We also ended up having a mini ‘Blue’ concert with Duncan James, as he did sing a few Blue songs which were funny and entertaining. Overall, Act 2 was my favourite on the night as it kept you entertained and intrigued.

Overall great panto, I didn’t feel it was as good as last year but my wife thought different so the only way to find out is to book your tickets and see for yourself as it’s a happy, sing a long fun night out for the children!

Rating: 4.5/5

Tickets cost from £13.50 to £31.50 (booking fees may apply).

Jack and the Beanstalk is at Derby Arena from 8 December 2018 to 5 January 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.derbyarena.co.uk or call the box office on 01332 640011.

Derby Arena, Royal Way, Pride Park, Derby, DE24 8JB | 01332 640011

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