Review: Jack and the Beanstalk at The New Wolsey

Jack and the Beanstalk – the Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto, at The New Wolsey, Ipswich, until February 5.

WHEN The New Wolsey reopened a decade ago the theatre decided to bring a new style of panto to the people of Ipswich – with the actors showing their supreme versatility by playing a variety of instruments.

They created an art form that appeals to all ages – something that has already become a tradition in its own right in the town.

There is the danger that such a production can become predictable and “samey” – but somehow they always seem to avoid that trap.

This is the second time The New Wolsey has brought us their version of Jack and the Beanstalk, and it seemed as fresh as the first of their pantos that I saw.

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While there were a couple of familiar faces in the cast, most were new to Ipswich, and special mention must go to Will Kenning, whose Dame Dolly Durden completely stole the show.

If you’d asked me before the show if a Dame could be both traditional and take the role in new directions, I’d have said you were mad.

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Will manages that with a performance where you can’t see the difference between the scripted and ad-libbed material. David Hunter and Liz Singleton are delightful as the romantic leads.

And the technical guys and actor Adebayo Bolaji do wonders to produce the best giant you’ll see on stage.

But overall this is a superb ensemble performance. Everyone can sing, dance, play instruments and entertain brilliantly. And it is certainly true this is a show for all ages. My children (21 and 16) loved it. The Brownies behind us loved it. And all the (in Dame Dolly’s words) wrinklies without children loved it.

A great night out.

Paul Geater

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