Theatre Review: Dick Whittington at Nottingham Playhouse

Words: Tanya Louise
Tuesday 29 November 2022
reading time: min, words

Tanya Louise reviews Dick Whittington at the Playhouse...


"They’ve only gone and done it again!" 

As sure as Christmas falls on the 25th December, you can guarantee that the Nottingham Playhouse pantomime is going to be something special.

From the moment you walk into the auditorium for this year's offering of Dick Whittington, you’re transported to a world of sparkles, technicolour and magic, and that’s just from the amazing set design before the cast has even stepped foot on stage.

When they do, it's a big festive opening number to herald the start of almost three hours of traditional family fun, which has both children and adults cheering and booing from the off.

Of course, just with the name Dick Whittington, you already know there’s going to be just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek (and there’s another one for you) Dick jokes to keep the adults chuckling; that’s before we get on to the fact he has a pussy cat. 

And no one delivers a line like the legendary John Elkington, who returns for the 24th year in the role of Dame. A master of his art, he is, without a doubt, the best in the business. Anyone even thinking of playing Dame needs a masterclass from this guy on how to do it to perfection. Fast-thinking, witty ad-libs and one-liners have the audience in stitches. Just a side-eye can have the cast corpsing. The Dame's outfits are bigger, sillier and more outrageous than ever this year.

You know there’s going to be just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek

A strong cast tells the classic story but with lots of surprises and modern twists and turns. The musical numbers span the decades to keep everybody happy, with some noticeable modern powerful stand-out vocals from Lisa Ambalavanar as Dick Whittington, Rosanna Bates as Alice and Natalie Winsor as Fairy Bowbells. 

Huge amounts of work have gone into this fabulous production, from the colourful set design, dazzling costumes and choreography to the writing by Adam Penford, the Playhouse's Artistic Director. His script always manages to make even the show sponsorship funny. He also directs.

Let’s not forget either that it wouldn't be the Nottingham Playhouse panto without an appearance from some other returning cast members; the woodland animals. This year is more creative than ever with them making almost a Muppet Show-style performance for a musical number.

There are a few magical effects to look out for, such as the under-the-sea moment, complete with octopuses, and a dream sequence with a flying chair. Sure, it faltered a little and didn’t exactly glide, but this is a pantomime that sells on sheer talent, magic and a continued unrivalled outstanding reputation rather than celebrity names.

Another triumph for the Playhouse. Book now!

Dick Whittington plays at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 14 January 2023

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