Under normal circumstances, the announcement of a Christmas production of Jack and the Beanstalk would not exactly be news.
But in this case the cast is indeed newsworthy: It features Heath Lamberts, Canada's premiere farceur who recently played the clock in Disney's Beauty and the Beast on Broadway; Jeff Hyslop, from the Broadway production of Kiss of The Spider Woman; Camilla Scott, delightful as the lead in Toronto's Crazy For You; Ross Petty, who acts as well as having the distinction of being prima ballerina Karen Kain's husband; Mary Ellen Mahoney, a quirky and talented performer from Toronto's mid-size theatre scene who was also in the Toronto version of Crazy For You and Simon Bradbury, whose work at the Shaw Festival gives Lamberts a run for his money in the comedy arena.
This is another in a series of seasonal pantomimes and musicals with which Petty has been involved (last year it was Robin Hood) and they are designed for audience interaction at its most enthusiastic. While adults may appreciate the ad libbing, topical political references and double-entendres, it's the kids who really make or break the experience when they sing, ask questions, talk and -- something you're seldom encouraged to do at any age -- talk back.
The pop-up, story book style, sets and costumes come direct from England and the cast is backed up by a live ten-piece orchestra under veteran musical theatre director, David Warrack. Jeff Hyslop directs and choreographs.
The production runs at the Elgin Theatre from Dec. 11 through to January 4. For tickets call: 1-800-872-5555.
--By Mira Friedlander