Jack and the Beanstalk at Chesterfield's Pomegranate Theatre is a giant-killer of a panto

Jack at the Beanstalk. Photo by Alex Harvey-Brown.
Jack at the Beanstalk. Photo by Alex Harvey-Brown.

Giant steps are taken to make Jack and the Beanstalk at Chesterfield's Pomegranate Theatre a huge hit with all the family.

Superstar singer, children's TV performer, dancing Dame, great giant and a cute cow create a magical masterpiece which gets better and better as the panto progresses.

Lee Latchford Evans from pop supergroup Steps plays the title role in Jack and the Beanstalk. Photo by Alex Harvey-Brown.

Lee Latchford Evans from pop supergroup Steps plays the title role in Jack and the Beanstalk. Photo by Alex Harvey-Brown.

Traditional fun is alive and kicking in the first half where hero Jack and his silly sibling Simon butter up the audience with the cream of corny jokes, the Dame and her daft son cause mayhem in the dairy and there are water pistol shoot-outs both on and off the stage.

Things really take off in Act Two when the Dame takes centre stage in a fabulous tap-dancing scene and, boy, does she work that body. A  flame-eating, fireball-twirling Fleshcreep and his posse of punks light up the stage as they gyrate to The Prodigy's Firestarter soundtrack. And the long-waited  Giant Blunderbore is revealed in all his glory, complete with swivelling eyeballs, a cavernous mouth, twitching neck and a fist which thumps up and down.

A pumping soundtrack of Mr Blue Sky launches the show and a glittering finale sees the cast sing I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day. Along the way, contemporary songs such as Rachel Platten's Fight Song and James Arthur's Falling Like The Stars are sung beautifully by the show's big names Lee Latchford-Evans and Andrea Valls.

But the hits that Lee sang with pop superstars Steps are what the audience want to hear and in the spirit of panto that wish comes true as the cast belt out a medley of favourites including  Deeper Shade of Blue, 5-6-7-8, Sorrow and Tragedy.

Andrea Valls plays Princess Jess. Photo by Alex Harvey-Brown.

Andrea Valls plays Princess Jess. Photo by Alex Harvey-Brown.

Lee and CBeebies star Andrea are a perfect match for the roles of Jack Trott and Princess Jess, delivering beautifully pitched singing, convincing chemistry and heart-warming audience interaction.

Comedy is in the capable hands of seasoned performer Paul Eastwood, playing Jack's barmy brother,  who seems to have just as much fun winding up his castmates as sharing his jokes with the audience.

Simon Howe is a twerking, tap-dancing triumph of a Dame whose facial expressions are reminiscent of the late, great Les Dawson. He gives a masterclass in creating a comical character as colourful as Dame Trott's large collection of dresses.

A sparkling performance by Janine Pardo matches the glittery outfits of her good fairy character Spirit of the Beans. And Alexander Lee gives a truly wicked interpretation of the hiss-worthy villain Fleshcreep.

Paul Eastwood milks the laughs as daft Simon Trott. Photo by Alex Harvey-Brown.

Paul Eastwood milks the laughs as daft Simon Trott. Photo by Alex Harvey-Brown.

With its mix of topical references to PPI,  Simon Cowell and Love Island, traditional slapstick and  talented dance school students, Jack and the Beanstalk strengthens the Pomegranate's reputation for growing good pantomimes. 

Directed by Robert Wheeler for Paul Holman Associates with musical direction by Dr Simon Fricker, the panto continues until January 5. To book, call 01246 345222 or go to www.chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk

Simon Howe ramps up the comedy in his guise as Dame Trott. Photo by Alex Harvey-Brown.

Simon Howe ramps up the comedy in his guise as Dame Trott. Photo by Alex Harvey-Brown.

Dance school students with cast members of Jack and the Beanstalk. Photo by Alex-Harvey Brown.

Dance school students with cast members of Jack and the Beanstalk. Photo by Alex-Harvey Brown.