jack cast

Pictures: Nicola Young

Jack and the Beanstalk

Coventry Belgrade


The Belgrade Pantomime has become a Christmas institution under the heel of Iain Lauchlan’s elegant Doc Martin.

Even with the new artistic regime in charge at the Belgrade, nothing has changed. It’s an annual treat, one to which I look forward with eager anticipation. And, and I don’t think I’m alone here, richly rewarded. There was an almost palpable air of excitement in the audience as the lights dimmed.

It is easy to forget what the story is as you watch, because the rich relationship that has built up over the years between Iain and his sidekick Craig Hollingsworth is simply wonderful. I always think they could happily ad lib the whole show! There are so many comically topical jokes that I bet the process includes daily updates.

Jack and the Beanstalk is a mainstay of Panto world; an enormous singing beanstalk, though, that’s new to me. Jack (Morna MacPherson) ‘son’ to Dame Trott (Iain Lauchlan) and ‘brother’ to Simon (Craig Hollingsworth) loves Princess Poppy (Rochelle Hollis) and why not?

simon and dame

Craig Hollingsworth as Simple Simon with Iain Lauchlan as Dame Trott and Daisy the cow

She is absolutely gorgeous and sings like a bird. She also cares for her butterfly-obsessed father King Kevin (David Gilbrook) as their village is threatened by Blunderbore the Giant (Lewis James) and his sidekick the ever-resourceful Fleshcreep (Andy Hockley).

Only a magic harp and Fairy Fennel (Emma Mulkern) with her lovely fairy helpers can save the village. Until, of course, Jack is sent to market with Daisy the cow (Lewis James) and is given magic beans to save the village. The rest, I assume, you know?

Beans feature quite prominently including Dame Trott’s costumes, amazing as ever, Jelly beans, bakes beans and more, some so large that they don’t fit through doorways! We all know about beans and I haven’t grown out of laughing at farts . . .

It’s always lovely to see children involved on the stage as well as children in the audience and this is truly family entertainment. It is good, slick with the odd hiccup that’s elegantly covered or even engineered by the antics of the two stars.

There’s music, comedy, dance, romance, drama, incredible costumes including the giant that is just plain breath-taking, and a great story with a happy ending. What more can you ask? Iain’s laugh is worth the money on its own. Lovely – more please. To 07-01-23.

Jane Howard


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