DICK WHITTINGTON – Birmingham till 30 January.

Hippodrome Birmingham.
Runs: 2h 40m, one interval till 30 January 2011.

Review: Alexander Ray, 22 December.

Traditional, energetic, and a very naughty monkey.

One of those live-theatre things happened when I saw DICK WHITTINGTON yesterday; one of the leads – Joan Collins – was too ill to appear. So this makes reviewing the show tricky, since this year’s Hippodrome offering is built around its two leads – Joan Collins and Julian Clary (some may remember he started his career as the Joan Collins Fanclub.) At the eleventh hour (possibly even later) the panto production company found a stand-in, Wayne FitzSimmons; he went on with a script.

So the show, in the best tradition, went on in the face of such adversity.

WHITTINGTON feels much more traditional than recent Hippodrome pantomimes, it’s colourful, joyous, fast moving and family friendly, but lacks the special electricity we have seen in previous years.

Julian Clary (an ingenious creation, the Spirit of the Bells) is in fine form and given plenty of opportunities to play the audience – which he does with great aplomb. His Sea Captain accent (which is about as real as his nautical outfit) is deliciously funny. He has a very funny haunted bedroom sequence with Keith Harris and Orville which could well be developed further.

Keith Harris with Orville play major roles; it’s astounding that, after all these years of performing with Orville, Harris’s act is still totally, genuinely funny. Harris takes the spot before the Finale Walkdown, but this time with Cuddles (the monkey) – moments of inspired nonsense and naughtiness – for adults and children alike.

Nigel Havers, as King Rat, drives the show along, ably aided and abetted by Jeffrey Holland as Dame Felicity and a charming Dick Whitiington from Liam Tamne.

Sharp singing and dancing all round ensure the panto tradition is alive and well in Brum.

(Credits will follow.)

2010-12-23 10:17:49

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