As a lover of all things pantomime, in a bit of a shock twist, I had never seen Dick Whittington until last week, when we saw it at Lighthouse Poole. and now I have seen it twice, with our second version at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton.
We arrived at the Mayflower, full of anticipation for the night ahead and the kids were over the moon to meet some of the menacing rats before the show.
The show opened with the cat dancing around the Dick Whittington in lights before King Rat (Steve McFadden) appeared on the stage, to the boo’s and hisses of the audience and a gasp when a huge, red-eyed rat filled almost the entire stage.
We were quickly introduced to the other characters – Dick Whittington (Joe McElderry), love interest Alice (Suzanne Shaw), her mother, pantomime dame Sarah the Cook (Andrew Ryan) and her helper Idle Jack (Bobby Davro), who stole the show from the off with his impeccable comedic timing, a string of high profile impressions and pure silliness which had the cast and the audience in fits of giggles.
The great thing about pantomime, is that although the story is familiar and tells the tale of Dick Whittington and his rise to fame and fortune, it always takes on its own twist with nods to the local area surrounding it and its star performers.
The songs, which included those from the Greatest Showman, Glee, Village People and even a nod to musical theatre with Half a Sixpence, were brilliant, the sets and the big dance numbers were incredible, especially the aforementioned giant rat and a huge flying London bus that rose up off the stage as if by magic and the costumes were stunning, especially those of the Dame.
Highlights of the show for us had to be Idle Jack’s Wonky Donkey routine, a nod to one of our favourite books of the moment about a spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey – try saying that at speed!!, Kenny the Kangaroo, who literally had the audience bouncing along, a bit of Baby Shark for the younger viewers and a riotous 12 Days of Christmas that saw Suzanne Shaw go flying across the stage and land in a giggling heap (she was fine by the way).
The only weak link in the show was American singer and actress Sheila Ferguson, whom never really truly sparkled as the Spirit of the Bells, despite her incredible voice.
The show is perfectly timed at an hour for each half, with a 20 minute interval in between and tickets cost from £19.50 to £39.50 per person, depending which performance you choose.
If you love big theatre productions, you certainly won’t be disappointed by this pantomime. Leave you worries at the door, rev up your voice and prepare to laugh until it hurts – Dick Whittington runs until January 6th 2019.
Disclaimer: We were guests of the Mayflower Theatre for the purpose of a review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.