Jack and the Beanstalk
Producer/Director Bonnie Lythgoe
State Theatre until July 21
Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP
If you’ve experienced Ozpanto productions such as Cinderella, Peter Pan & Tinkerbell, Aladdin and Sleeping Beauty, you’ll have high expectations of Bonnie Lythgoe’s latest offering, Jack and the Beanstalk at the State Theatre.
As with all of the pantomimes, there are topical inclusions such as references to the Queensland Rugby League team and Clive Palmer. There’s also a simplified version of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine.
The better-known performers are Lucy Durack as Fairy Crystal, Peter Rowsthorn as King Crumble and Richard Reid as Bumble The Lord Chancellor. Malcolm Lord as Dame looks like a cross between Reg Livermore and Pauline Hanson and as the villain Flesh Creep, Luke Joslin bears an uncanny resemblance to Boy George.
The notable omission from this cast is Kev Orkian whose involvement is greatly missed. It became obvious how much he held the previous productions together. Orkian was the vortex around which the plots and the other performers swirled. I don’t want to infer that this version of Jack and the Beanstalk is bland because Bonnie Lythgoe is making great contributions to Australian theatre and her enthusiasm is infectious, but Orkian provided the punch, the pop and the personality to inject life, interaction and dynamism into the productions.
So if you’ve seen the other pantos you’ll notice that this one is different. If you’ve already purchased tickets and you’re in the Mezzanine or the Dress Circle, and you like to see expressions on the performers’ faces, you’d be advised to take along high-powered binoculars. Also, to respect the Dress Circle sight lines, most of the action takes place on the upstage half of the stage but the cast tries hard to engage the audience.