York Theatre Royal Panto 2023 is Jack and The Beanstalk – Review |ad

We went along to the York Theatre Royal Panto last night and had a brilliant time!  This year the panto is Jack and the Beanstalk, and what a lovely family friendly extravaganza it was!  Starring a couple of famous folks off the telly such as James Mackenzie (from CBBC’s Raven) as the baddie and Nina Wadia (been in lots of shows like Eastenders and Goodness Gracious Me) as the Fairy Godmother.  As well as favourites like Robin Simpson as the Dame and Mia Overfield as the eponymous Jack.

York Theatre Royal Panto

Side note: I just remarked to Mr Wonders how much I liked the Dame’s ‘Clifford’s Tower’ dress (photo above) and he didn’t even twig it was a Clifford’s Tower dress.  Don’t worry, I have sent him this photo and roundly mocked him.

As well as the usual panto singing and dancing, this year we have lots of other entertainment to keep things fresh.  There is a talking cow named Dave (which went down well with the kids as Mr Wonders’ first name is Dave).  There is even a song dedicated to the cow –  ‘I’m just Dave’ in the style of ‘I’m Just Ken’ from the Barbie movie.


York Theatre Royal Panto review


There are some fabulous special effects, such as the pyrotechnics that light up the stage when the Fairy Godmother appears.  We also liked the golden streamers sent out into the crowd as the pantomime finishes.  Oh and I always love to see the cast out and about in York on video.


Another treat was Zeus the performing dog, who behaved impeccably throughout and gave a real sense of cabaret to the night.  Finally, and possibly my favourite part, was the inaugural York water pistol fight (be prepared to get a little wet!).

The kids all around us were in hysterics and even my teens had a good time!  Already looking forward to next year! 



The Official Details:

York Theatre Royal Panto –  Fi-Fi-Fo-Fun for all the family as CBBC’s James Mackenzie plays the villain in York Theatre Royal’s Jack and the Beanstalk


James Mackenzie, who played the immortal, leather-clad warrior in CBBC’s fantasy adventure game show Raven, is turning to the dark side in pantomime at York Theatre Royal this Christmas. 


The Scottish actor will play the villainous Luke Backinanger in the Fe-Fi-Fo-Fun family pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk from 8 December 2023 to 7 January 2024.


James was the original lead character Raven in the multi-Bafta award-winning show Raven from 2002 to 2010. Raven was a mysterious, leather-clad immortal warlord who led young warriors on a quest to test their skills and win their heart’s desire. The show has garnered cult status, spanning 15 series, and filmed in far-flung exotic locations such as India. Its popularity saw it air from Canada to Australia and lots of places in between.


James has worked for many theatre companies including the National Theatre of Scotland and has performed all over the UK in everything from Macbeth to the musical Sunshine On Leith. He has been a regular in BBC Scotland soap opera River City and made guest appearances in Still Game and Outlander.


Over the past few years he has been introduced to a whole new generation as James in the smash hit CBeebies series Molly and Mack. He has been part of the CBeebies Christmas shows and performed on stage at the Globe for CBeebies Shakespeare. And, of course, like most Scottish actors, he has been in Taggart more than once.


Juliet Forster, Creative Director at York Theatre Royal said: “We are delighted to welcome James Mackenzie to the cast for this year’s panto Jack and the Beanstalk. James is such a well-loved children’s TV personality and we can’t wait to see him strut his stuff as the bad boy of panto.”


As already announced, York pantomime favourite Robin Simpson (Mrs Smee in All New Adventures of Peter Pan and Manky in Cinderella) is returning as Dame. Robin was nominated for a 2021 British Pantomime Award for his role in Cinderella.


Co-produced with Evolution, Jack and the Beanstalk promises stunning sets, lavish costumes, breathtaking special effects and, of course, lots of pantomime magic. The pantomime is written by Paul Hendy and produced and directed by the same team behind the spectacular Cinderella in 2021/22 and All New Adventures of Peter Pan in 2022/2023.


Tickets are proving popular, with a special family ticket offer available for all performances. £75 for bookings with three tickets, including at least 1 adult and 1 child, saving up to £52, or £100 for bookings with 4 tickets, including at least 1 adult and 1 child, saving up to £68.




We were invited to attend the press night and as always, all opinions expressed are my own.