As the smoke clears and Laila Morse enters stage-right as Fairy Sugarsnap, it’s comforting to know that certain pantomime traditions are in safe hands. Morse handles the verse a little warily but it’s the mischievous rasp of her East End drawl, synonymous with her EastEnders character Mo Harris, that relaxes the audience and raises the first laugh of the evening.
Jack and the Beanstalk Croydon Sid Sloane (Jack) and Dame Trott (Quinn Patrick) with Gareth Williams (King Eric) peeking behind and Billy Trott (Herbie Adams) in Jack and the Beanstalk at Fairfield Halls, Croydon Photo: Paul Clapp
This is an especially talented company led by CBeebies favourite Sid Sloane as Jack. A confident and generous stage performer, it is easy to see Sloane’s broad appeal making the actor a perfect hero for this classic fairytale. Sloane is matched by Gemma Sutton as Princess Tamara, one of those rare actors bringing a touch of cheeky humour to the romantic lead.
Other ingredients are spot on, from the cheeky asides of Quinn Patrick’s roly-poly Dame Trott to the knockabout comedy of Herbie Adams’ Billy. There is even a special appearance from Neil Fingleton, who at more than 7ft 7 inches tall towers above the cast as a bellowing giant Blunderbore.
From a technical perspective, Helga Wood’s sets and Jeremy George’s sound design really add to the atmosphere already created by a strong ensemble and by musical director Rob Eckland’s lively three-piece band.