The year 2013 requires something a bit trendier for our cooler London-based kids who feast on the same culture diet as we do. This Lyric Hammersmith-staged Jack and the Beanstalk is skilfully aimed at a savvy tot and teen audience, with pop culture references from Bieber, Beyonce to twerking updating the famous tale.
Its biggest strength is its energy, colour and sense of fun, exactly what you need from a panto. Daft Punk’s Get Lucky pumped through the aisles to warm us all up for the action while search lights swept our heads. Oliver Townsend’s set was remarkable for the non-human stars of the show: Caroline the cow, the beanstalk and the evil Snot Giant, Nostril. Great big glowing green tentacles oozed in from windows and stage wings to close the first act, while Nostril was a sombre African totem face. Both had fairly short appearances, however, which was a bit of a pity.
The hugely talented, young cast knew exactly how to strike the note for its grown up little audience, bouncing around with energy worthy of kids' breakfast TV but also displaying their immense, mature talent. Steven Webb as Sprout is outstanding, his connection with his audience is warm and heartfelt, but never patronising. Jack (Rochelle Rose) and Jill (Joshua Tonks) break into Les Mis style operatic solos and Beyonce booty shakes and we particularly enjoy their awkward teenage crush (‘Crikey, blush!’).
The plot was perhaps underdeveloped at the end, especially with the inexplicable disappearance of Nostril. But attention spans nearing bedtimes no doubt needed the fun to end on a sugar rush high, and a singing battle of Sweet Caroline concluded the night on a suitably happy high note.
Jack and The Beanstalk is at the Lyric Hammersmith until 4 January.Tickets: £12.50 - £35 /under 16s £15. Running Time: 2 hrs 15 mins (including interval). Ages 6+. Londonist saw Jack and the Beanstalk on a complimentary press ticket.