We received complimentary press tickets for the purpose of this review
We headed to the seaside town of Porthcawl yesterday for the press performance of Jack and the Beanstalk – and what a fantastic, fun and family-friendly show it is; the perfect festive treat.
Read on for our full review or you can head to the Cardiff Mummy Says Instagram channel for a Reel showcasing some snippets from the show.
Porthcawl Pavilion’s annual pantomime has been a highlight in the seaside town’s festive calendar for more than 50 years. This year’s offering – Jack and the Beanstalk, which opened at the weekend and runs until Sunday 8 January – is the first Porthcawl pantomime we’ve been to, and we absolutely loved it.
It’s traditional panto fun from start to finish, with plenty of audience involvement, lots of humour, some great musical numbers, creative costumes, and even a panto cow. There’s lots of local banter, members of the audience finding themselves part of the jokes, and some laugh-out-loud scenes, including one involving a well-executed complicated tongue twister that could very easily have ended rather inappropriately indeed.
Within minutes, the audience are shouting out loud and singing along, and this continues for more than two hours as our hero Jack (a dashing and charismatic Harry Lynn) and his love interest Jill (a delightful girl-next-door type played by Darcy Kim) find themselves climbing up the beanstalk and facing the wrath of the giant.
Ellena Louise Thompson is a sparkly and magical Fairy Candy Floss, and Samantha Spragg the delightfully evil as our resident baddy Poison Ivy. Their second act duet Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves is great fun. Gregory Joshua-Cox as Squire Stinker proves to be a real audience favourite due to his bottom making unfortunate noises whenever he walks around.
Our personal favourites were Kyle Tovey as Tommy Trott, Jack’s hapless brother, and Vern Griffiths as panto dame Tegwen Trott, their mother. These two have taken to the Porthcawl stage for several years now and have a great rapport between them, as well as with the audience. Vern in particular has a brilliant array of costumes which change with every scene, and provides many of the best one liners.
Accompanying the cast during the musical numbers are the Junior Ensemble, who light up the stage with their enthusiastic dancing and singing. It’s always so great to see local young people being given the chance to appear in a professional production.
And of course, there’s Daisy the cow, listed in the programme as being played by Daisy the Cow… so we’ll never know who was in the back end of the animal but they deserve a mention for their spot-on choreography.
The pavilion venue is lovely; seating 600 it’s more intimate than some of the bigger local pantomimes, which makes the interactive elements even more fun. While it may not have the same lavish budget as other shows, it really delivers in terms of strong performances and some great special effects, such as the growing beanstalk and the giant.
Age-wise, it really is suitable for all. Younger children may find Poison Ivy a little scary, but there’s so much humour and lively musical numbers they will soon be distracted.
After the show, members of the press were given the opportunity to meet the cast. They were all so friendly and chatty and it was great to get a bit of back-stage insight.
Harry Lynn (Jack) spoke to us about how the cast manage to remain so enthusiastic and fresh when they are performing the same show daily for three and a half weeks, often with two performances a day. “Every audience is different,” he told us, “and we react to that. So when the audience is having fun and joining in, like today, we bounce off it”.
So if you want the best possible version of Jack and the Beanstalk there’s no sitting quietly in your seats. Embrace that inner child and get involved! All together now… “he’s behind you!”
Jack and the Beanstalk is at Grand Pavilion Porthcawl until Sunday 8 January. Tickets start at £18. For more information, visit the website.