Friday, 14 December 2007

Dick Whittington - Lowry Theatre

Dick Whittington
Lowry Theatre - Dec 7th - 6th Jan
Directed by Paul Mills
Reviewed by The McNamara Family

Men dressed as women, audience participation, a plethora of corny jokes and oddly chosen pop songs awkwardly shoehorned into a paper thin plot – it can only be the great British tradition that is pantomime. That said, when panto is done well all of these factors are not only forgiven but accepted and cherished. And Dick Whittington at The Lowry Theatre in Salford was well done indeed.

The cast included known celebrities such as one-hit wonder Chesney Hawkes (and yes, he did manage to get his song in the production), Darren Day and Emmerdale’s Frazer Hines alongside slightly lesser known names. However, in this instance the so called stars did not outshine their lower-billed colleagues. In fact, the performances by John Bishop as Captain Cuttle (albeit reminiscent of Bez from the Happy Mondays on one of his less coherent days) and Jamie Greer as Sarah the Cook with strong Little Britain influences were quite often outstanding.

The stage sets were glitzy and lavish and well designed and even included an impressive, moving sailing ship large enough to hold several cast members.

The performance was punctuated throughout by a good mix of jokes, many of which worked on two levels giving the adults as well as the children something to laugh about. By far the best received comedy moment of the night was a pastiche of the current Marks and Spencer’s TV adverts, where the audience’s applause started before the sketch was even half way through.

Darren Day as King Rat reverted to his earlier career as an impressionist and inserted many well executed comedy impressions. Chesney Hawkes seemed a little wooden at times and almost appeared uncomfortable in trying to get the children to participate. However, this was more than compensated for by his dashing good looks and his ability to the make young girls (and a couple of older one’s sat behind us) giggle and scream with excitement.

Although the modern pop songs seemed to clash with the traditional story line at times, all the songs were well performed. In fact, the duet between Dick Whittington (Hawkes) and Alice (Tara Wells) was particularly well done. Panto, however, is really aimed at children, and seeing as we were accompanied by Emily (aged 11) and Eleanor (aged 9) it is important to get their opinions of the show.

Emily’s View:
I enjoyed the pantomime very much. I particularly liked Alice because she wore a lot of pretty dresses. The Rat King did a lot of good impressions that made me laugh.

The show had some good effects. I liked the sparkles that appeared every time Fairy Bowbells came on stage. But I wasn’t too keen on the mirror ball or the flashing strobe lights because they made me feel dizzy.

Sarah the Cook wore some very bright clothes and I liked the dress with the pictures of fruit and veg on.

Eleanor’s View:
I enjoyed visiting the Lowry Theatre very much, it was very entertaining. The pantomime, Dick Whittington, was very funny because at the beginning of the show Dick was playing the electric guitar to some rock music.

The Rat King was my favourite because he did very good impressions of famous people. I think the best impression was Paul O’Grady.

Sarah who was the cook on the ship had some fabulous costumes that she changed in every scene. The costumes were very colourful and some were outrageous. Sarah was a real flirt with the men.

Using the tennis racquet to hit the sweets high into the audience was a good idea but they didn’t go high enough.

Overall a fabulous fun show for all the family.

Photos by Mike Slade Top: Darren Day (King Rat), Middle: Chesney Hawkes (Dick) & Tara Wells (Alice), Bottom: Karen West (Tommy), Nick Nebould (Idle Jack) & Jamie Greer (Sarah)

frontpage hit counter