Dick Whittington

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The last mince pie may be long gone but the festive spirit continues at Warrington’s Parr Hall with this season’s panto offering, Dick Whittington.

Taking on the titular role of Dick is a hugely likeable and charismatic Amy Thompson from Channel 5’s Milkshake, who has walked from Gloucester to London with faithful cat Tommy in a bid to discover if the streets truly are paved with gold. Once there, Dick meets and falls in love with Alice (Amy Leek), however the course of true love never did run smooth as evil Queen Rat (Natalie Walton) is keen to try all she can to frame Dick as a thief, allowing her and her loyal mischief of rodent friends to take over the capital.

This Tony Peers Production gives exactly what you want from a traditional panto, there’s sparkly costumes, silly slapstick, plenty of opportunities to boo the baddie and a fabulously flamboyant dame in the form of the wonderful Mark Newell.

Jam-packed with witty one-liners and those traditional panto elements we all love – the doomed cookery scene, a hilarious take on the 12 Days of Christmas as well as a classic ghost and ghoulies scene, Dick Whittington delivers entirely.

This talented cast are clearly having great fun on stage and together with support from dancers from the Felicia Burns School of Dance offer a wonderful night of family entertainment.

Amy Thompson is brilliantly cast as Dick, engaging and entertaining with a strong voice to boot. The scenes between her and Amy Leek (Alice) work wonderfully with their voices complimenting each other beautifully. Leo Atkin and Daniel Dean keep the laughs coming as brilliant comedy duo Captain and Mate while Mark Newell makes for the perfect pantomime dame, sarcastic and dry he delivers a pitch perfect comedy performance.

Freya Ebbrell gives us a sparkling performance as the good fairy while Natalie Walton is the shade to Ebrell’s light as the evil Queen Rat, giving the audience as good as she gets and displaying her own incredible vocals when she gets her moment in the spotlight

Running at just over 2 hours including an interval, Dick Whittington is paced perfectly for families. Little ones were kept engaged throughout while there were plenty of cheeky jokes for the grownups to enjoy.

If you’re wanting to banish those January blues then get yourselves down to Warrington’s Parr Hall where this wonderful cast will treat you to a terrific time, oh yes they will!

Dick Whittington is on at the Parr Hall until Sunday 15th January tickets available here.

Robin Hood & The Babes in the Wood

The decorations may have come down and the tree has been packed away but there’s one festive treat still on offer as Robin Hood & The Babes in the Wood plays at Warrington’s Parr Hall until Sunday 13th January.

This traditional production is packed full of the usual pantomime favourites, cream pies in the face, water guns as well as being grabbed by the ghosties, or was it the ghoulies? There’s also a sprinkling of topical modern references including the floss, a certain Baby Shark song and even an appearance from the one and only Donald Trump as this fun, family show offers laughs a-plenty for all ages.

The Tony Peers Production written by Phil Beck (who also stars as Nurse Nellie) keeps things very panto traditional with Louise Willoughby playing Robin Hood to Charlotte Buxton’s Maid Marion. Willoughby makes for a strong and sassy lead with both ladies giving note perfect performances despite some hilariously difficult conditions brought about by comedy duo Nurse Nellie and Silly Billy (Phil Beck and Mike Carnell) whose comedy capers are greeted with shrieks of laughter from the audience.

As a double act both Beck and Carnell are fabulous fun, quick witted and enormously entertaining with impeccable comedy timing the duo ensure the action moves at a perfect pace as they gently guide us through the story throwing in plenty of laughs along the way. Ian Moore’s lecherous Sheriff of Nottingham revels in the boos while the Sheriff’s reluctant henchman Snarly played by Edward Leigh shows there’s more to him than meets the eye.

Robin Hood is a great fun production which offers the perfect introduction to festive theatre at a family friendly price. The small cast work brilliantly together, clearly having a lot of fun on stage they succeed in taking the audience along for this traditional and cheeky ride. While there aren’t the big show stopping numbers or dazzling choreography of bigger budget productions the laughs come thick and fast ensuring this panto covers all bases in terms of appeal, from toe-curling close to the bone jokes for the adults to slap-stick silliness for the kids.

My fellow mini-reviewer remarked on the way back to the car “My cheeks hurt from laughing so much” a true testament to the enduring appeal of panto; cheeky, charming and chock-full of fun.

Catch Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood at Warrington’s Parr Hall until Sunday 13th January. Tickets available here.