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‘Jack & the Beanstalk’ – Leicester Panto Review

If you’re looking for something to catapult you into Christmas and all the magic of the festive season, look no further than ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ – a colourful and spirited panto, which is currently showing at De Montfort Hall.

Packed with songs, silliness, and sparkly seasonal charm, this show has all the ingredients to ensure that you come away with a huge smile on your face – whether you’re six or sixty!

Leicester Time: 'Jack & the Beanstalk' - Leicester Panto Review
Picture: Pukaar News

The sequels of joy, whoops of laughter and spirited shouts of ‘he’s behind you,’ left me in no doubt that this was a hit with the younger members of the audience, who seemed thoughrily invested in what they were seeing on stage. However (like with all good pantos), there was more than enough material to keep adults amused as well – subtle innuendo, witty banter and a gag involving a sausage which certainly raised a few eye-brows. I shall say no more… 

One of the highlights for me however, was a highly entertaining version of the ‘12 Days of Christmas,’ which descended into utter madness on stage. The super high energy sequence, (which involved a string of toilet roll and a ‘bra that was made to hold three,) had me (and many others) laughing out loud at the sheer silliness of it all! 

Orchestrating much of the madness, was the amazing comedian Jarred Christmas, who played Jack’s brother ‘Lazy Larry’ in the show. The New Zealander did a great job of engaging with the audience and keeping energy high with his charisma, wit and impressive talent for improv. A particular crowd pleasing section of the show, involved him plucking a random ‘Dad ‘ out of the audience and making him perform alongside two other willing participants, to hilarious effect. Oh well, I guess that’s what you get for sitting in the front row! 

Of course, one of the major draws for going to see ‘Jack and the Beanstalk,’ was the array of stars on display – including Leicester’s very own Sam Bailey.

The former X-Factor winner put her powerful pipes to great use in her role as the magical fairy – something she describes as ‘a buzz’ and a ‘wonderful joy.’

Leicester Time: 'Jack & the Beanstalk' - Leicester Panto Review

“Doing panto in itself is incredible and the fairy is so much fun to play. She’s a little bit scatty – she just comes on every now and then to get the audience going and help tell the story,” she said of the character.

“It’s such a buzz nice to be back performing in my home town with everyone cheering you on.”

The main character of course is Jack who is played by Mark Read – a member of chart-topping 90s boyband, A1.

A strong actor and singer (who seems to have aged very little since his hey-day) Mark is perfect in the role of ‘hero’ – the man who climbs the beanstalk, defeats the giant and gets the girl (of course…)

Perhaps the biggest name in the show however, is Scott Mills, the Radio 2 DJ who plays the role of ‘Mayor Mills.’

Speaking of his panto debut, Scott told the Leicester Times: “I think it went okay. I love putting myself out of my comfort zone, and doing panto is such a buzz. I think I’ve actually got the bug! It’s such a good British tradition. People love it – especially at Christmas. I really am having the best time!”

Catch Jack and the Beanstalk at De Montfort Hall until January 7.