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Jack and the Beanstalk - De Montfort Hall Review

Reviewed by Mark Johnson
Disclaimer: tickets were gifted in return for an honest review

Pantomime season is in full swing and De Montfort Hall give a huge offering by teaming up once more with Imagine Theatre to stage Jack and the Beanstalk.

The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk. Photo by Nicola Young.

The traditional pantomime is chock full of humour, music, magic and adventure. It tells of the penniless inhabitants of De Montfort In The Dales who are under the watchful eye of the evil Giant Blunderthwaite and his henchman Fleshcreep. I won't spoil anything else from the story from that point.

Top billing for this year goes to Radio DJ and presenter Scott Mills who makes his pantomime debut as Mayor Mills. You can sense his nervousness at times but he will certainly settle as the run goes on and grow more ino the role. Unsurprisingly Mayor Mills also happens to be the town's Radio DJ and this is probably where Mills feels most confident.

Mark Read is a dashing hero as Jack Trott, he enters every time with a variety of 90s pop tunes and his vocals are superb especially as he sings 'Take On Me' which A1 famously covered to chart-topping success. Read is matched perfectly to Christina Harris as Jill Mills who is a lovely presence throughout, though a little underused. Her presence is light and bright and aids loveliness to the stage.

Returning for a third year running is New Zealand comic Jarred Christmas who this year plays Lazy Larry. He is effortlessly funny and has a boundless energy that adds to the hilarity as he bounces off the cast and some audience interaction. You never really know where Christmas will go next with things and it's not hard to see why he's become a Leicester pantomime favourite. 

Sam Bailey also returns after a few years away and it's wonderful to see her back this time as Fairy Flutterby. She clearly loves the art of pantomime and interacting with her fellow cast and audience. Naturally, her vocals are superb and it's great to hear her renditions of 'Brand New Day' from The Wiz and 'Tonight Belongs To You' from The Prom. I liked how integrated the character felt too whereas the Fairy role can often feel like a side character.

Jarred Christmas (Lazy Larry), Jack Ballard (Dame Trott), Scott Mills (Mayor Mills), Mark Read (Jack Trott) and Christina Harris (Jill Mills). Photo by Nicola Young.

Taking on the Dame role is Jack Ballard who follows in his father Martin's footsteps. Ballard is a breath of fresh air from the get-go as he confidently shines in a variety of lavish and outlandish costumes. He has a great comedic talent that matches well in scenes with Christmas's Lazy Larry. Fingers crossed Ballard returns year in year out like his father once did.

Mark Beauchamp is a brilliant Fleshcreep. He manages to not become too hammy or corny as the villainous character and relishes the boos from the audience. Beauchamp is also really funny and clearly is having a good time and that reflects as you watch him perform.

Choreography by Aaron Renfree is well performed by the company and the 6 ensemble performers (Thomas Brackley, Sofia Bennett, Amy-Rose Gordon, Amariah James, Ran Marner and Kayden Patel) alongside a junior ensemble of younger performers do a great job of performing the movement. It fits into the world perfectly.

There are a few real standout scenes but the biggest laughs come in the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' which is always a joy. Christmas, Bailey and Ballard have a ball performing it and flinging the five toilet rows are far as they can into the audience. Although a couple of scenes don't quite land effectively, particularly the final showdown with the giant.

The set design is visually impressive as the locations change with painted backdrops and props setting each scene. Buttercup the cow is beloved by the audience from the start and the giant's entrance is really impressively imagined. However, there are occasional sound issues which will hopefully get ironed out as the run goes on. 

Jack and the Beanstalk provides all the fun of a festive pantomime and is performed by a superb company that will have you cracking up with laughter. A giant amount of family fun.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs at De Montfort Hall until Sunday 7th January 2024. Tickets are available from

Jack Ballard (Dame Trott). Photo by Nicola Young.

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