Dick Whittington panto at Birmingham Hippodrome Review

Dick Whittington panto at Birmingham Hippodrome Review


Posted 2022-12-21 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Tue 20 Dec 2022 - Sun 29 Jan 2023

Birmingham has been blessed with one of the giants in the panto world at the Hippodrome theatre under the leadership of irrepressible comedian Matt Slack. 'Biggest' and 'best' has been touted around a few times in previous years but as the cost of living bites, will the show be an austere version?

This year, the show goes on with Dick Whittington and brings Wet Wet Wet singer Marti Pellow and TV's Dr Ranj to the fold at Birmingham Hippodrome until January 29.

Regulars like comic Doreen Tipton, panto dame extrordinaire Andrew Ryan and Suzanne Shaw return. They are all used to working with Slack, so it makes for a slick, seamless affair with plenty of chemistry.

This Dick Whittington panto was previously at The London Palladium so the glamorous sets and costumes have moved on from there to Birmingham. It feels glitzier than ever if anything. There's the usual high budget spectacular special effects including a flying bus, but at its heart, the basic fun of Slack playing with the audience is the ultimate winner. The big set-up moments and 'plants' make for some fantastic surprises that I wouldn't want to spoil.

Slack has moaned before that one year he hopes to be the hero and get the girl. This seems to be the closest chance he'll ever get as lead character Dick Whittington. Be warned, he revels in as many Dick jokes as possible but it never grows tired.

Be careful what you wish for though as Slack as the lead rather than a hard done-by loser isn't quite as an enthralling story. Maybe we all prefer to be willing on the underdog after all.

Pellow is no stranger to panto and has the menace needed as baddie The Rat Man. He's got the star presence and opens the show with dancing rats and an evil laugh that one-time Wet Wet Wet fans will still be utterly charmed by.

Doreen Tipton is Dick Whittington's lazy cat that leads to a great unexpected rendition of a famous song from Cats musical. I'm still unsure whether it was her real voice. It's her wry humour that is the scene-stealer though.

The real surprise is how refreshing Dr Ranj is. He's full of sparkle that hasn't left him since his Strictly Come Dancing days. He's a bright and friendly addition to this year as a magical Spirit of the Bells.

In previous years, the storyline has gotten a bit lost and the transfer of this show from London to Birmingham has created its own unnecessary complications. They've tried to make it about Brum although there's London red buses and Dick Whittington is famously set in the capital where he becomes Lord Mayor of London.

Instead he strangely becomes Lord Mayor of Pantoland. It would have been easier if the story was just kept in London. I don't think it would have bothered any of the audience.

Ultimately, the storyline takes a backseat to Slack's slapstick and usual favourites. The miming to a series of inappropriate songs, crazy impersonations, the days of Christmas runaround and the return of inviting children on stage for a chat ahead of the finale.

Then there's Andrew Ryan's crazy dame outfits and beautiful singing from Suzanne Shaw in a show-stopping music number. Pellow sings a few numbers but don't expect anything from his pop days.

If it ain't broke don't fix it is the general rule that applies here and is why the show and Slack are such crowd-pleasers. Dick Whittington is pure festive fun that can't help but make you laugh. You may have seen the essence of it all before but that's why crowds hurry back for this annual Brum panto with Matt Slack. It shines bright as something hopeful and happy in these difficult times.

RATING :& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9734 ;

!date 20/12/2022 -- 29/01/2023
70837 - 2023-01-26 01:49:44


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