Review: Dick Whittington at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the panto, and this is the biggie, the one Midlands panto that’s a must-see treat in a tradition that defies fashion and time.

And this year the Hippodrome’s Dick Whittington really is the business, live theatre at its best, with stars, music, laughter, action, knockabout comedy, colour, noise, fun, a laugh-out-loud multi-coloured feast of non-stop entertainment that’s just what the doctor ordered. Oh yes it is! And don’t even think about shouting back – I’ve seen it, remember.

Matt Slack and Andrew Ryan in Dick Whittington

Matt Slack and Andrew Ryan in Dick Whittington

For a start it’s got a dream cast. The unbelievably handsome John Barrowman whose smile could charm birds from the trees is a delightfully cheeky Dick (yes), while Eastenders’ Steve McFadden is a suitably menacing King Rat. Musical star Jodie Prenger is pure charm as Fairy Bow Bells, while the magnificently caparisoned Andrew Ryan is the dame of dames as an ostentatiously overdressed Sarah the Cook.

Whatever they’re paying Hippodrome panto favourite Matt Slack it just isn’t enough for this unbelievably talented comedian, in his element here as Idle Jack. He almost, but not quite, steals the show.

Because, and I can hardly believe I’m going to say this, the real stars are the Krankies, who after what seems like a hundred years in the business really make this show the non-stop feast of fun it is. Their lifetime of experience with live audiences makes it a walk in the park for them to charm and cheek their way through a series of increasingly silly scenes in the noble pursuit of cheering us all up.

Add in the marvellously colourful costumes, the song and dance routines, the 3D sequence and a few other surprises I won’t spoil and you have a hit show that must be one of the best Christmas offerings in Britain. A hoot.

Dick Whittington runs at the Hippodrome until January 29. For tickets phone the box office on 0844 338 5000 or go online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com.

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