Birmingham Hippodrome to Sunday 29 January
(There are some relaxed performances, check with the BO)
Runs: 2h 45m, one interval
Tickets: 0844 338 5000
Revie: Alexander Ray Edser, 21 12 16
High powered seasonal fun, great entertainment
After the traditional opening skirmishes between the Bad (King Rat) and the Good (Spirit of Bow Bells) our hero, Dick Whittington, John Barrowman, makes his entrance. And what an entrance. Barrowman (back in Birmingham after eight years – where do those years go to?) leaves us in no doubt he means business. This is a hi-energy opening musical number; his magical personality explodes into the large Hippodrome auditorium, and we are woo-ed into a delightful theatrical partnership. From his first appearance, Barrowman, a great showman, drives the pantomime along . . . But not on his own.
Barrowman is aided and abetted by two partners in comedy. Matt Slack, a Hippodrome favorite, brings his own brand of physical comedy to bear. It’s fabulous to watch him working an audience full of children; he has that thrilling clown quality of being a child himself. The children open themselves up to him – so too does the child in us all. Andrew Ryan brings us the Dame, Sarah the Cook. Ryan is another Hippodrome favorite, with more outfits than Selfridges and re-inventing loved routines.
Speaking of which, so does the company. A comedy high-spot is the repetition number, freely adapted from the Twelve Days of Christmas to fit under the sea; the exuberance and sheer skill of the performers leaves us gasping for more (which we get, as a reprise.)
Mary Berry gets a few mentions in the show, so, in the spirit, I can say the show has no soggy bottoms; it’s all fast paced with no let up. Good songs, and some excellent fully staged musical numbers – including a stage full of sailors and YMCA.
It’s great to see The Krankies still going strong; the act is the same, the material has changed – risqué, witty, and true to the spirit of pantomime, many jokes at their own expense.
(Credits to follow)