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Review: Jack and the Beanstalk at Durham Gala

Jack is Top Trumps for Durham

Jack and the Beanstalk
Durham Gala
Until Saturday 7th January 2017

A great panto has a clear story, lots of laugh for both the children and the adults, good pace, likeable characters and the set looks good too. Jack & The Beanstalk ticks off of those boxes and  leaves the audience happy at the end too.

Jack (Jamie Brown)
Written and directed by Neil Armstrong and Paul Hartley, the show features talented local actors. The references to the local area come across as genuine rather than learnt from a script.  There is real warmth to this show and it is easy to see why this team was so critically acclaimed with last year’s show.

Fleshcreep (Neil Armstrong)
This was our first time at The Gala panto’ and it left a very good impression upon us. Jack (Jamie Brown) lives happily in Spennymoor: a place where there are always smiles and everyone is happy – until Fleshcreep (Neil Armstrong) and his giant (Ethan Scott) appear.
Fairy Moonflower (Sally Collett)
They demolish the castle leaving the Princess Jilliana (Sarah Boulter) homeless. The princess ends up on Jack’s farm and his mother, Dame Trott (Paul Dunn) invite her for tea. Milkshake the cow (John Murdoch) is no longer producing milk so Jack’s silly brother Simon (Paul Hartley) is given the job to sell it and he ends up trading it for some magic beans…

Dame Trott (Paul Dunn)
Added to the Durham panto mix is the Fairy Moonflower (Sally Collett) who needs to gain back her magical power from Fleshcreep.

The show is supported by a live band perched up on the theatre circle; 4 dancers and one of 2 groups of 8 members of the Gala Theatre Stage School. The dancers and kids are much more than just window dressing and they get their own lines and songs too.

Dame Trott (Paul Dunn)
The audience get plenty to boo and cheer at. There are moments of silliness and mischief but the show doesn’t lose the plot. The set and costumes are suitably bright and cheerful. Jamie Brown is well suited to the role of the clean cut good guy. Neil Armstrong courts the jeers as the bad guy whilst Paul Hartley is silly enough without milking the crowd for laughs too much. Both Sally Collett and Sarah Boulter play strong characters, that both have their chance to set their wits against the bad guy.

Milkshake the cow (John Murdoch)
Jack & The Beanstalk is a warm, friendly panto’ appealling to audiences young and old. It was a fun, well-written 2 hours 40 minute production and we will be returning next year!

Review by Stephen Oliver - Follow on Twitter as @panic_c_button.

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Tickets priced from just £10 can be purchased from the Gala Box Office in person, by calling 03000 266 600, or online at

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