Panto veteran Billy Pearce features for the 17th time in this year’s Bradford Theatre production with a star-studded cast including Lisa Riley (Mandy Dingle from Emmerdale), John Challis (Boycie in Only Fools and Horses) and Jake Canuso (Matteo in Benidorm) offering strong support.
The highlights of the show are the two special effects pieces which producers QDOS excel at: firstly, with Pearce as Jack in a helicopter to get to the top of the beanstalk without vertigo; the second when the angry giant is awoken and chases Jack in a stunning 3D sequence.
Also particularly of note was another Bradford panto tradition: the ‘Babes’, child performers this year from the Sara Packham Theatre School who were enchanting and endearingly cute. As ever the Alhambra Orchestra were on fine form under the masterful direction of MD James McCullagh, having to constantly compete with Pearce’s witty ad-libbing.
Pearce really packs a panto punch and puts his heart and soul into the show, and although the jokes are corny and the slapstick staged he carries the show with his banter. Adam Stafford as Dame Trott is suitably outrageous and like Pearce builds up a strong rapport with the audience.
A powerful production that is playful, never taking itself too seriously, the only serious thing is the silliness, and you are guaranteed that comes in hilarious heaps!
12 December to 24 January, Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Reviewed by Rich Jevons