Reviewed by Jayne Knight
Waiting for the opening of this traditional tale of rags to riches, the stage shone out in a blaze of red, blue and gold.
From the onset the audience were, with the help of Fairy Bowbells (Katrina Bryan), drawn in to the story, commencing in Old London, as we were introduced in true pantomime style to the characters around whom the story wove. Dick Whittington is shown on his arrival in London, whilst by the magic of a gauze curtain we see, at the same time, his quest, Queen Rat (Joanne Haywood) as she bandies words with the Fairy.
There is a wealth of pantomime experience between the cast; for Sam Rabone (Dolly the cook/Director) and Ben Thornton (Billy) this is their third season together at the Lichfield Garrick and the rapport between them is evident, giving a sense of camaraderie between both actors and characters.
Ashley Emerson is renewing his role of Dick Whittington, with ease, complementing the antics of Dolly and Billy.
The role of Alice Fitzwarren is ably played by Beccy Lane, whilst Alderman Fitzwarren, is portrayed as a comfortable father figure by Ieuan Rhys. Last but not least is Tommy the cat (Lucy Parry) whose energy and purrrrfect vocals prove to be both charming and appealing.
In this well told tale there is interaction aplenty with the audience. A plethora of jokes, suitable for children of all ages have you chuckling throughout – even when you know what is coming, the delivery is second to none.
The sweet shop scene is a tried and trusted recipe for success, whilst the skit between Dolly and Billy on Highgate Hill is a marvel of dialogue on a theme.
Some of the music and songs are taken from well-known musicals, with minor alterations to the words where necessary for the benefit of the story, yet for the younger audience there are popular songs from the Pet Shop Boys and The Village People. In all a well-balanced music bonanza.
Mention must be made of the underwater scene. Whilst the Garrick does not have the financial backing of larger theatres they have produced a fascinating 3D effect, which has the audience shrieking at the creatures encountered. However, for me, the highlight of the ship-wreck had to be Dolly in her bikini, on the shore of Morocco.
This pantomime is 2½ hours of sheer escapism, with ever present ‘it’s behind you,’ and ‘Oh, no you won’t’. I cannot single out any one person as a star – the whole cast performed together as one, to delight their audience.
Running until the 5th January 2019, with a top ticket price of £30 this is a must see show. Would I like to see this pantomime again? “Oh yes, I would!”
Tickets cost from £17 to £30 (booking fees may apply).
Dick Whittington is at the Lichfield Garrick from 29 November 2018 to 5 January 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.lichfieldgarrick.com or call the box office on 01543 412121.