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Hippo's panto is bigger and better than ever... oh yes it is! REVIEW Jack and the Beanstalk Birmingham Hippodrome.

LAST year's record-break-break ing Hippodrome pantomime was a corker, setting the bar high for Britain's biggest production.

But I reckon this year is even better. It's a joy from start to finish, or as Cilla might put it, a lorra lorra laughs.

No other panto will give you a scary giant, a flying helicopter, dancing pigs and sheep, a beanstalk which grows before your eyes and hilarious routines.

Not to mention Gary Wilmot twerking his Kim Kardashian-sized behind with an owl on his head.

I missed Gary's beautiful singing voice and a repeat of the poignant, self-penned song he came out with last year, but then it's hard to get a note in edgeways with crooners Jane McDonald (The Enchantress, arriving by star) and Duncan James (a dashing Jack) on board.

They did very well in their panto debuts and looked like they were having a lot of fun. Duncan didn't even mind briefly taking his shirt off. The brilliant ensemble cast work together well, not least in their hectic rendition of Twelve Days of Christmas which involves Five Toilet Rolls. I wonder how that will go down in February, though.

The scary giant says he wants to eat a 'Yummy Brummie' while evil Fleshcreep (Chris Gascoyne) threatens to send us all to the barren wasteland of Wolverhampton.

Paul Zerdin is great with his ventriloquism but I reckon Matt Slack steals the show with his puntastic jokes, physical humour and impressions. His Kevin Webster from Corrie is spot-on.

An example? The people in Edgbaston are so posh they have Pot Noodle on a plate.

He uses a blaster gun to get sweets up into the Circle, saying: "We've got the budget in Birmingham."

Quite, and you can see where it's gone - on the gorgeous costumes and sets and the really impressive 3D effects in the second half.

Jack and the Beanstalk is a perfect combination of the traditional and the high-tech, but mainly it's just very funny.



| Chris Gascoyne as Fleshcreep and Jane |McDonald as the Enchantress and (below) Paul Zerdin (Simple Simon), Gary Wilmot (Dame Trot) and Matt Slack (Silly Billy)

Jane McDonald with Duncan James as |Jack and Robyn Mellor as Princess Apricot

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 23, 2014
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