Jack And The Beanstalk Is Brilliant Fun At Wolverhampton Grand

What are the ingredients of the perfect panto? A handsome lead man and a beautiful leading lady? A fabulous dame with a series of eye popping costumes? A comedy sidekick who has all the best lines but doesn’t get the girl? A fairy who holds the show together with her magical narration? A baddie who makes the audience boo and hiss? And Doreen Tipton? If the answer to all the above is yes, then you are in for a total treat at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre this Christmas, as Jack and the Beanstalk have reunited last year’s dream team of Lisa Riley, Ian Adams, Adam C Booth and Doreen Tipton, and have added Gareth Gates, Graham Cole and Sarah Vaughan to this cast and have created a dream of a panto. It is seriously good fun.

The traditional story of Jack and the Beanstalk is one of the best known (and in my opinion) the best of all pantos, with it’s beanstalk, giants and goose that lays the golden egg. It is also ripe for hilarity, with Daisy the Cow taking centre stage for so many of the jokes. And you will never see anything as funny as the scene stealing Doreen Tipton (Gill Jordan) attempting to milk the said cow along with Dame Trott (Ian Adams also on hilarious form). That said, this is a panto that is full of side splittingly funny scenes and songs, ones that leave you still having a little chuckle long after you have left the theatre.

The whole cast is gloriously funny, all with their tongues firmly in cheek in the best of panto traditions. Gareth Gates as Jack still sings like an angel and his performance of Unchained Melody had many in the audience fondly remembering his performances on Pop Idol, whilst he has good stage presence to play the handsome hero. He is well teamed with Sarah Vaughan as Jill, who shows that she can also handle slapstick in her hilarious love scene with Gareth that is interrupted by Simple Simon with manically chaotic results. Screen Veteran Graham Cole is a super baddie as Fleshcreep, totally hamming up his wickedness, you can see how much he is enjoying himself, which totally adds to the fun and mayhem. Lisa Riley is again brilliant in her role, holding everything together with her Mother Nature, and very funny flinging toilet rolls into the audience during the crazy version of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas.’


But once again it is the side characters who steal this panto. Ian Adams is a fantastic dame, he has all the rude lines and brings the house down with them, as well as showcasing some of the funniest costumes seen on the Grand stage. His knowing asides to the audience about the quality of the jokes are super funny and raise laughs throughout. Adam C Booth makes a welcome return to the Grand after his super funny performance as Wishy Washy last year, and, at this rate will become the Grand’s Matt Slack, he is such a crowd pleaser. His scene with the market store where he tells a story with all the products his brilliant, as is his poo, boo, moo rhyming scene. But once again it is Doreen Tipton who absolutely brings the house down with her hilarious lines and deadpan delivery. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as funny as Doreen dancing, I didn’t think a dancer could be referred to as idle, but Doreen has this honour, and that is a total compliment.

The songs, the scenery, the direction is all admirable, making this another triumphant panto for the Grand.

Great Fun – Go see.

Wed 13 Dec – Sun 14 Jan


Click here for ticket information

Christmas At The Botanical Gardens

Last Thursday was possibly the coldest night of Winter so far, but it was also a night full of magical sparkle and beautiful lights. A very special blogger event was taking place at Birmingham’s beautiful Botanical Gardens which have been transformed into a wonderful illuminated trail for the festive season, and with the promise of vintage fairground rides, warming mulled wine and deliciously festive food, we donned our hats and scarves and braved the cold in order to see the Botanical Gardens in a whole new light.

We were not disappointed.

The glasshouses, trees and bushes of the gardens are totally transformed as they twinkle and sparkle in the darkness. There are tunnels that are emblazoned with lights, and the eerie glow of the fire garden bathing everything in an orange light. The whole gardens are a riot of colour and sparkle, with lots of wonderful Christmas touches, from the 12 days of Christmas mural, to a reindeer trail which ends with a golden Rudolph. You can also find Santa, and some of his helpful elves along the route too.

There are numerous food and drink concessions both inside the trail and at the start of it where you can feast on gourmet hotdogs, festive cookies and a variety of hot and cold drinks. The mulled wine and ciders are delicious, and there are also bottled cocktails that are well worth a taste. This is also the area where you will find a beautiful, traditional carousel ride and a helter skelter, a definite taste of Christmas past.

But it is the finale that really takes the breath away. The lawn aviary finale is quite simply stunning, as the lawn and glasshouses are all light up and Christmas music plays. If there really is such a thing as a Winter Wonderland, then this just might be it.

Christmas at the Botanical Gardens runs until December 30th, you can find opening times and ticket information here.

With thanks to the Brum Bloggers for the invitation.

The Chuckle Brothers are panto gold at Wolverhampton Grand

Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and the gang flew into Wolverhampton tonight for the launch of panto season. Yes the shouts of ‘he’s behind you’ ,’oh no it isn’t’ and the new addition ‘to me, to you’ were once again reverberating around the beautiful Grand Theatre as the anarchic nuttiness of The Chuckle Brothers and the cartoon ham villainy of John Altman( aka Nasty Nick Cotton) made Peter Pan another panto smash hit.  For good family fun and entertainment this is hard to beat, and this is mainly due to panto gold Paul and Barry Chuckle.


As is so often the case in panto land, the lead characters are not the stars, both Peter Pan and Wendy are charmingly played by Ross Carpenter and Hannah Nicholas and perform their singing and dancing well. But it is the panto veterans The Chuckle Brothers, playing the inept, would be pirates the Smee brothers, who literally steal every scene they are involved in. They are hilarious, great at ad-libbing and slapstick and have the audience rolling in the aisles and eating out of their hands. A scene involving a sword, a box with a hole and a cucumber will long remain in the memory.



But it would be wrong to say Peter Pan is just the Chuckle Brothers show. John Altman is a smashing Captain Hook, he sends up his Eastenders television persona perfectly and plays everything with his tongue firmly in cheek. And the beauty that is panto cannot be summed up more perfectly than with TV’s arch villian Nasty Nick, dressed up as a one armed pirate singing Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood – life does not get more surreal than that, and is all the better for it. I was also impressed with the sassy, vibrant Tinkerbell, played by another former soap star Lucy Evans, who turned in a suitably sparkling performance.



It is hard to not give too much away, but once again the Grand has excelled with stunning scenery including a fabulous pirate ship, and a flying car that will literally take your breath away. For a lovely, warm family night out suitable for everyone from the kids to great granny, Peter Pan is it.


Peter Pan at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Tue 15 Dec – Sun 24 Jan 2016

Click here for ticket information.