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BrumHour saw Dick Whittington at the invite of Birmingham Hippodrome.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
This production contains: some adult jokes and audience participation, but NO buckets of water! Phew!
Review: Dick Whittington at Birmingham Hippodrome
Directed by Michael Harrison, written by Matt Slack and Alan McHugh with original music and songs by Marti Pellow and Grant Mitchell
The Brum Panto is back with Matt Slack finally playing Dick Whittington, who comes to work at a sweet shop owned by Felicity Fitzwarren (Andrew Ryan) with daughter Alice (Suzanne Shaw), Dick also has his cat Doreen (Doreen Tipton) hanging around, but there is villainy to be found in the shape of Marti Pellow as The Ratman. There’s also a fairy godfather Dr Ranj as The Spirit of the Bells – whatever that means.
Let us see: There are fantastic songs, jokes about government and political leaders, monologues about chocolate, lots of fart jokes, jokes about the health service, jokes about sexuality and jokes about gender. The script is littered great moments, but some clunkers remain including a very ill-timed Jeremy Clarkson impression. However, the performances and vocals more than make up for this.
Marti Pellow is a brilliant villain, straight out of a West End musical, with wonderful vocals and little time for making jokes. Dr Ranj is loving every second of his time here, as the only Brum Panto newbie in this leading cast. He has great humour and fun banter. Suzanne Shaw makes a great double act with Matt Slack, their friendship clearly strong enough to replace any romantic chemistry.
Andrew Ryan is the blueprint of a Panto Dame, with a new outfit for every single scene and full of jokes. Matt Slack is on form as the titular character of Dick and uses every chance he can to make jokes about it, the audience quite rightly love him. Doreen Tipton steals every single scene she is in as the cat, from the over the top outfit to a vocal performance which had me shooketh! Bravo, Bravo!!
The sets are excellent, and the two set pieces include a giant rat (very early on) and a London bus are fantastic! The local village set near central Birmingham is not featured here (very unusual for the Brum Panto indeed, this story is traditionally set in London after all.
The pacing is different compared to the traditional story of Dick Whittington, but this means this panto has put its own stamp firmly on the story. There’s even time for a fire performance with Spark Fire Dance! Nice to have some traditional variety included.
At two hours and forty minutes including interval, I’d have chosen between having the kids on stage and the song with the props, but they were both here for press night.
I had a great time at this fantastically fun performance and the Birmingham Hippodrome with Crossroads Pantomimes has put on hugely enjoyable show, a great feather in the cap to both!
Brilliant fun, Dick Whittington runs until 29th January 2023 at Birmingham Hippodrome. Book tickets here: birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/dick-whittington-two
Will Matt Slack get to be Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk next year? And will Doreen Tipton get to be the (singing) cow? I certainly hope so!