Karen Koren: Jack and the Beanstalk is a giant panto hit

Allan Stewart as Dame Trot, Grant Stott as Fleshcreep and Andy Gray as Farmer Hector
Allan Stewart as Dame Trot, Grant Stott as Fleshcreep and Andy Gray as Farmer Hector
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They are back – the three amigos Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott in this year’s panto Jack and the Beanstalk. The panto threesome started their mammoth run this week at The King’s Theatre and I had to go and check it out this week.

The secret ingredient to Jack and the Beanstalk’s success is in its tried and tested trio of Allan Stewart (Dame Trot), Andy Gray (Hector) and Grant Stott (Fleshcreep). Loud, brash and somewhat abrasive, Jack and the Beanstalk is a reimagining of the classic tale, seeing Jack Trott (Greg Barrowman) on a quest to win the heart of Princess Apricot (Rachel Flynn) and defeat the evil Giant Bawface – the Scottish Giant. Cultural references are bang up to date as well as more nods to Edinburgh than you can reasonably count. Heartwarming that it is all about Edinburgh, makes it all the more personal. I was impressed that Gilded Balloon got a mention, when Jack, Hector and Dame Trot were sharing a bed and Hector said, “Get to sleep or I will never work at the Gilded Balloon again”, not sure if Andy said that because I was in or if it was part of the script.

From the outset, the show oozes quality; with a glitzy set and a fast-paced narrative. Each scene is beautifully set and staged, complemented with costumes that visually stun and musical numbers that are executed with the King’s famous professionalism. The children who are part of the ensemble dancers delight and when they are also part of the animals – even more delightful as sheep, goats and the heart melting black sheep.

There’s a lot of panto spectacle, complete with inflatable ogres, a giant’s head that looms out over the audience and a flying helicopter to take Dame Trot to Cloudland. It captivates audiences old and young throughout. Packed into two hours, including 20-minute interval, the production leaves its audience begging for more.

Jack and the Beanstalk earns its crown as Scotland’s best panto with a winning mix of music, fun and glamour. The result is an uplifting, rib-tickling theatrical event that is not to be missed.