“A panto for all ages”: Jack in the Beanstalk at the Grand Opera House Review

The stars of Jack in the Beanstalk. Photo Source: Grand Opera House, Belfast

Peter Moor, Contributor.

When did you last see a pantomime? For me, before last week, it must have been as a ten year old. Could Jack in the Beanstalk still entertain me, a third year uni student? The answer is undoubtedly yes. The whole show may have felt incredibly immature, but it didn’t stop me from having a good time.

There is one overriding star to the show in the form of May McFettridge, this year in her role as Jack’s mother, Dame May Trot. This is her 29th year in panto and she still has it with her ever topical with: “What do you call a herd of donkeys? Stormont!”

It was not just these gags but regular audience interaction making a mockery of audience members when asked where they were from. I dread to think what she’d say if you were from the Holylands. My recommendation – avoid the front row!

Whilst the performances aside from that of McFettridge were excellent, the part of the baddie must stand out in panto. For the second year in a row at the Opera House, David Bedella, as Fleshcreep, played this role brilliantly.

And yes, don’t worry, there was audience participation aplenty of the traditional panto type. One disappointment though, not one shout of “It’s behind you,” all evening.

Even if you think this childish shouty participation is beyond your mature self then let me assure you, the panto is packed with comedy far too good for children. Little snippets of innuendo that flew above the heads of the kids.

In fact, it’s hard to not enjoy it. The huge songs with impressive dancers included young talent in the form of the local McMaster Stage School. You couldn’t help but clap and sing-along, with numbers from The Greatest Showman going down especially well.

It wasn’t just gags, song and dance. The costumes have to be applauded for how over the top they were, especially McFettridge’s numerous dresses, all of which were perfect for the Pantomime Dame. And praise must be given to those in the costume of the pantomime cow who seemed to show that a cow still can have a bit of rhythm.

If you go to this show, then don’t be afraid to say that you enjoyed it. Even if you last saw McFettridge as a kid, you will see her and her range of gags in a whole new light. A perfect night out for both kids and adults.



Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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