Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre

We recently went to see Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre – the current home of Croydon’s Pantomime.

Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre runs from now until 31st December 2017.

The ingredients for a good panto : one dame. Essential. Must be in gaudy outfits, the more bright and outlandish the better. Slapstick. Essential component to hold things together. Laughter. Usually fits of giggles from the castmembers, especially if someone forgets their lines. Ad libbing. See previous, also essential – you must be able to think on your feet. Songs. Pop songs are always good, especially if everyone is likely to already know it. Audience participation. Essential. Compulsory. “It’s behind you!” and “oh no it isn’t” and joining in with songs or dances (if invited).

Jonny Awsum (Billy Trott) and Tim Hudson (Dame Trott) in Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

As seasoned panto goers, if our pantomime experience ticks all these boxes then it’s job done. Last night we saw Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre and can safely declare that it’s a good ‘un!

Jack and the Beanstalk stars Jonny Awsum (who reached the semi finals in Britain’s Got Talent – I recommend watching some YouTube videos of his performances beforehand), and Paisley Billings who is the receptionist on E4’s Tattoo Fixers. I think that underplays Paisley’s talents a lot – this lady has stage presence and a big, powerful, incredible voice.

Jonny Awsum plays Silly Billy Trott, the token daft character who keeps the story going. He’s funny and his facial expressions made us laugh a lot. You know when someone is naturally funny? That’s Jonny Awsum.

Paisley Billings is Fairy Kale. She pops up throughout the story, helping Jack Trott with his beanstalk issues and acting as a narrator.

Paisley Billings (Fairy Sweet Pea) in Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

There’s plenty of cheers and “HELLO BILLY!” goings on from the audience too, as well as the compulsory “booooooooo!” to Fleshcreep played marvellously by Steve Edwin.

Steve Edwin (Fleshcreep) in Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

Pop songs there are aplenty, all recognisable which is always a winner in panto terms.

A special mention must go to the Panto Dame Tim Hudson who made us laugh out loud several times throughout the show too.

The slapstick was as required, and the supporting actors and local young performers did a fabulous job too.

For the last two years the Croydon Pantomime has left its old home of Fairfield Halls and has moved to the nearby Waddon Leisure Centre. We had no idea what to expect either. It’s the main hall area, converted into a popup theatre – and it works too. The rear seating is raised as well, guaranteeing a good view for all.

Charlotte Bramwells (Princess - centre) and cast members of Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

One thing I thought they could maybe add is a big sign asking people to please not take photos or videos… I think I had 15 people in front of me doing just that which got a bit offputting at times! But it didn’t distract from the show too much as the performers gave it their all and delivered.

Q Productions who created this panto felt that Croydon not having a production would be wrong – and fortunately all the companies they needed to agreed it could happen. I’m delighted that we have a local panto, especially since we’ve recently lost theatres in Carshalton and Sutton. These pantomimes can only be a success if you give your support, and if they’re a good production. Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre is exactly that, you can still buy tickets, just head over here.

Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre runs for two hours. This does not include a 20 minute interval between acts. We were sent tickets for the purpose of review, all opinons are our own. 

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