REVIEW: Groundlings’ version of hapless Jack’s escapades is full of beans

Rehearsal pictures for Me and My Girl from Three Mills Studios, London, 2018. Picture by Johan Persson

Me & My Girl sets out to be the feelgood hit of the summer at Chichester Festival Theatre

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Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a trip to the theatre to watch the latest panto and Groundlings Theatre’s Jack and the Beanstalk was certainly a gigantic performance.

Aaron J Evans impressed in his role as the hapless and lovesick Jack with his goofy but lovable personality and fine singing voice, although not always clearly heard over the soundtrack playing.

Some of the cast of Jack and the Beanstalk. From left, Simon Rhys-Jones, Stephanie Lyse, Richard Stride and Aaron J Evans 'Picture Ian Hargreaves  (151645-2)

Some of the cast of Jack and the Beanstalk. From left, Simon Rhys-Jones, Stephanie Lyse, Richard Stride and Aaron J Evans 'Picture Ian Hargreaves (151645-2)

Sarah-Jane Price also has a lovely voice and performed admirably as Jill, forming a fine double-act with Evans as the lovers Jack and Jill.

Stephanie Lysé (Vegetable Fairy), particularly stood out with her outstanding performance of Let It Grow, a version of Let It Go from Disney’s Frozen, her powerful voice captivating the audience.

Richard Stride, also the artistic director, was hilarious as Dame Tilly Twerp and drew in the biggest laughs with his euphemisms and innuendos.

The moment he transformed on-stage into Princess Leia from Star Wars, light-saber at the ready, was easily a highlight.

Simon Rhys-Jones fitted the bill impressively in his role as the evil Pendragon, and certainly received an abundance of boos and hisses from the audience.

A special mention has to go to the dancing babes and seniors. They were energetic throughout and really spiced up the big dance numbers.

Also a well-done to Archie Porter who proved his versatility playing the back of Daisy the Cow and the stilt-wearing Giant, which by no means looked like an easy feat.

Jack and the Beanstalk is on at the Groundlings Theatre, Portsmouth, until Sunday, January 3.


Groundlings Theatre welcomed a 58th wedding anniversary and three birthdays as Jack and the Beanstalk opened.

Michael Olive and wife Pat were in Portsmouth to celebrate their wedding anniversary in the city where they met nearly 60 years ago. Now living in Basingstoke, the couple came back to Portsmouth to watch the pantomime, which Michael says they haven’t done for years.

Jack, Ruby and Jessica Lewis, from Gosport, also enjoyed it. The siblings agreed they liked the songs but were split on a favourite character with Jill and the beanstalk both in the running.

Rhys Croft, 16, from Portsmouth, said it was great to get out and see local talent from the area and said his favourite part of the show was the fairy and Jack climbing the beanstalk.