GLAD tidings are back at the Gladstone panto which is bigger and better than ever.

Dreamworld Entertainments are clearly at home in the Port Sunlight venue - they know the family audience so well.

After an absence of two years, they have returned in sparkling style and come up wth a show on a giant scale for the size of the homely theatre.

This version of Jack and the beanstalk mixes tradition with the modern and it works well even if the first half is over-long and could be pruned by ten minutes while not in any way detracting from the overall production.

On press night it was two hours 45 minutes - which is certainly value for money.

There's some favourite faces in the seven-strong cast with a genuine sense of creative camaraderie going on.

Wirral Globe:

'Jack and the Beanstalk' cast. Picture: Georgia Dillon

Kate Crossley's Fairy Virile is the nutty narrator who keeps us all up-to-date with the developments in the village and the Giant's abode in the clouds.

She works well with the villain - Fleshcreep, played with much glee by Hollyoaks and Emmerdale star Darren John Langford. Darren is reminiscent of the musical star Tim Currie.

Our delightfully-dogged fairy wanted the audience to chant 'Creepo' and they responded in fine voice as they did for every character's request for a 'hi kids' or 'boo and hiss' where necessary.

Conor Barrie is a likeable Jack and Jessica Jones (making her Dreamworld debut) provide the lively love interest while Squire Peg is played by versatile Roy Carruthers, who is a key part of the Helen Forrester stage adaptations.

Michael Alan Bailey is like the rabbit in the TV battery ads - he never stops with his infectious enthusiasm.

Completing the stellar line-up is Ryan Towart's formidable Dame Trott.

Imagine a Scottish Lily Savage with a scary laugh and you can see why she proved popular with the children and adults alike.

Great timing throughout from Ryan.

Wirral Globe:

'Jack and the Beanstalk' cast during rehearsal in October. Picture: Craig Manning

The ensemble dance team deserve a special mention for an outstanding contribution - notably the complex lifts and inventive choreography. Also, their costumes are first class.

So, take a bow: Faye Benson; Bethaney Bennett; Cameron Patmore and Kris Wright. Strictly top-notch.

Callum Clarke's music offers some enjoyable parodies and catchy singalong numbers notably Cabbage Love.

Jamie-Leigh Christian is also the choregrapher and co-producer Laura Newnes directs. That's real teamwork.

This Jack and the Beanstalk is packed full of humour and there are some inspired laugh-out-loud moments as well as an impressive Giant.

Oh and who can forget Moana the cow.

Which reminds me - the programme notes claim the enigmatic Fortina Stone is the writer. All I can say to that, boys and girls, is pull the udder one ...

Globe verdict:

Four stars

Magic beans ... Magic show!

The pantomime's run at the Gladstone ends on December 31.

Tickets from the Box office: 0151 643 8757