National Operatic & Dramatic Association
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Jack and the Beanstalk


20th January 2018


Haverhill & District Operatic Society


Haverhill Arts Centre

Type of Production



Cian Harriss

Musical Director

Tony Trott


Charlotte Scammerton


Author: Decia Ranger

It’s always a pleasure to review a production by this society. I like that members are given the opportunity to work as part of the creative team, giving them the chance to discover where their strengths lie, as well as gaining an appreciation of what it takes to bring a show to the stage.

Under the direction of Cian Harriss and featuring some excellent dance routines by choreographer Charlotte Scammerton, this large and enthusiastic cast did a great job of bringing Becca Neal’s imaginative script to life.  This was definitely a panto for the twenty first century, with something for everyone.

The prologue by fairy Flora (nicely placed by Sam Barker) gave way to the curtains opening on a rousing chorus number.  I can think of no better way to start a panto.

There were good performances from Wesley Ruthven as Jack and Faye Dower as Jill. These two young people both have strong singing voices, but even so they did appear to be straining at times which is to be discouraged.  It is not necessary when wearing a mic and not good for developing voices.  Apart from that, nicely played.

Steven Roach was a very modern pantomime dame.  As Mother Trott he did wear traditional costume when in the market square with his barrow of fruit and veg but the short skirts and figure hugging dress worn on other occasions really worked well. There was the usual array of jokes and innuendo to appeal to the adults but I felt at times he was having to work hard to get through to the audience.  Perhaps this was partly due to the fact we were at a matinee and parents were trying to cope with excitable children.

Terrific performances from Jacqui Rees Player and Emma Letcher as Baron Hardup’s henchmen 

Dollar and Buck. A great double act that really got the audience on side, especially the children.  Very well    done.

Well done also to Sophie Street and Daisy Robson-Baillie, who as well as being in the chorus did a great job of bringing Daisy the Cow to life.

Completing the principal line-up, there were good performances from Alex Rodwell as Gordon the wizard, living with daughter Jill in the castle at the top of the beanstalk, and Graeme Johnston as Baron Hardup, delighting in putting up Mother Trott’s rent.

The voice of the giant was suitably scary and I liked the realistic face. Not sure about the bare pole though.  Could this have been dressed up a little or were we only meant to see the face?

The scenery and costumes were excellent as was the imaginative lighting.  The beanstalk supposedly growing out of the stage really had me fooled!

Pantomime, as we know, is primarily for children and this one was certainly well received by the younger members of the audience sitting near me. 

With good musical accompaniment under the direction of MD Tony Trott, this was a very enjoyable production.  Well done to everyone involved and I hope you sell lots of tickets for the second half of the run.

Thank you for inviting me and for your hospitality.