Jac and the Beanstalk, New Theatre, Cardiff – review

Jac and the Beanstalk New Theatre Cardiff 2023

Post Tags

Thanks to the New Theatre, Cardiff for providing us with review tickets for Jac and the Beanstalk

Cardiff’s New Theatre have pulled out all the stops with this year’s pantomime, Jac and the Beanstalk. It’s bigger and better than ever before, and although it still has all the traditional panto elements, the show has a different feel about it, more ambitious, more lavish, more special effects, like everything has been turbo charged and stepped up a gear.

From the opening scene where we meet the evil Fleshcreep and his deadly crew as giants roam in the background, to the 3D digital effects in the second act as the heroes enter the giant’s castle (we were diving out of the way of flying objects, squealing, and getting squirted with water), this is another level of panto (and I say that as someone who has been lucky to have reviewed them for around 20 years on and off).

Some younger more sensitive children may find some moments a little scary – but that’s the beauty of panto: you can boo, hiss and shout “oh no you won’t”, and then before you know it, your children are laughing their heads off and you’re laughing just as hard because the innuendo has gone straight over their heads.

Jac and the Beanstalk New Theatre Cardiff 2023
Jac and the Beanstalk New Theatre Cardiff 2023

Adam Bailey (below, middle) is Jac Trot (yep, spelled the Welsh way). Originally from Penarth and now an accomplished West End performer and experienced panto prince, he’s the perfect charming panto hero, and has a lovely rapport with Denquar Chupak as Princess Jill (above). We’ve previously seen Denquar as Princess Jasmine in Aladdin and also as Snow White, and love how serene a performer she is with such beautiful vocals.

Jac and the Beanstalk New Theatre Cardiff 2023

TV and stage icon Lesley Joseph is The Spirit of the Beans, back in Cardiff just a couple of weeks after she was last here with the UK tour of Sister Act, playing Mother Superior. She has an incredible stage presence and doesn’t take herself too seriously, with jokes at her expense and references to Dorien Green, the Birds of a Feather character she is best-known for (to older members of the audience, at least). Oh, and she’s doing all this aged 78 when most people her age have been retired for at least 10 years.

Jac and the Beanstalk New Theatre Cardiff 2023
Jac and the Beanstalk New Theatre Cardiff 2023

Steve Arnott is our baddie, Fleshcreep (above). Looking rather like the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, he’s one of the most menacing panto villains I’ve seen, well-deserving of all the booing and hissing coming his way.

Lots of the laughs come from comedian Aaron James (pictured below with Lesley Joseph) as panto sidekick Silly Simon, brother of Jac. He has a few stand-up style moments including his A to Z of impressions which was uncannily accurate, even if younger audience members might not know who half the celebrities are.

Jac and the Beanstalk New Theatre Cardiff 2023

And then of course there’s Mike Doyle. The New Theatre panto legend is back for his 10th year at the New Theatre, this time as Dame Trot, dressed in the most colourful and wacky of costumes (the flowerpot headgear being especially flamboyant). Even before we’re asked, the panto regulars in the audience are shouting his catchphrase “Allrriiiiiighttt” at him. This will be a constant refrain in our house for the next few weeks, as it is every year after we’ve seen the panto.

Jac and the Beanstalk New Theatre Cardiff 2023

There’s a brilliantly funny tongue-twister from Mike Doyle, Lesley Joseph and Aaron James, with a couple of slip-ups which you’re never sure are genuine or scripted. Plus, as always, there’s a comic music number at the end which is so perfectly choreographed with truncheons and frying pans swinging all over the place, it has the potential to go horribly wrong, which only adds to the humour.

Add in classic panto ingredients of local references, plenty of audience interaction, fantastic costumes, big musical numbers, creative scenery, atmospheric lighting, and even a panto cow, and it’s a brilliant feel-good night out.

Jac and the Beanstalk New Theatre Cardiff 2023

We were lucky to be invited to meet the cast after the show where Denquar Chupak told us they’d only had two weeks of rehearsals. All credit to them for pulling such a strong production together so quickly. You know it’s only going to grow and develop over the next four weeks as the cast respond to the audience’s reaction and make subtle little tweaks.

At one point I looked around the auditorium and my nine year old was creased over giggling, my mid-40s husband was chuckling away, and the couple in front of us who looked to be in their early 70s were also laughing out loud. A real reminder of the universal appeal of panto to all generations.

If you’re already going, or thinking about it, you’re in for a real treat. Jac and the Beanstalk is filled with belly laughs, lots of audience participation, and a happy-ever-after, making this perfect festive family fun for all ages.

Jac and the Beanstalk is at New Theatre Cardiff until Sunday 7 January. Tickets ae still available, costing between £24.50 and £46, with concessions and family tickets available. For more information and to book online, visit the website here.

The production is around two and a quarter hours including interval.

Click here for more ideas of family-friendly theatre in and around Cardiff for the festive season and New Year.

Panto photos by Tim Dickeson

Leave a Reply