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.

Identities

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Premiering in Warrington’s Pyramid Arts Centre, ‘Identities’ by Rae Bell in partnership with Close To Home Productions shines a humorous and incredibly moving light on breast cancer, more specifically the journey one fictional character ‘Lucy’ and her brilliant boobs take.

Writer and performer Rae Bell allows Lucy’s boobs to do the talking in a succinct 60 minutes; the length of time it takes to perform a standard lumpectomy. Joining Bell on stage as left boob is Hannah Harquart, the two make for a perfect pairing. They’re bickering like sisters one moment then each other’s absolute rocks the next. The duo have a real ease about them ensuring the audience immediately gets on board with their creative storytelling. There’s a genuine warmth in their delivery as you quickly grow attached to their characters, making the development of the piece all the more emotional as we move from carefree nights out to consultant appointments.

The verbatim interviews which play out during the latter part of the show add an additional depth as the emotional & important reality of the subject matter is realised. Humour weaves through the entire production ensuring this piece never feels oppressive despite the subject matter.

The creative way in which the story unfolds allows for awareness raising to run alongside superb storytelling littered with belly laughs throughout. It’s the perfect blend of hilarity and heart-wrenching reality.

Director Maya Shimmin has ensured Rae Bell’s vision is realised with each aspect of the show uniting perfectly to ensure the storytelling takes centre stage here. The piece feels accessible and innovative and I’m sure will open up conversations for all who have the pleasure of seeing it.

Identities is packed full of humour and a whole lot of heart, it absolutely succeeds in raising awareness while being thoroughly entertaining; this is important and innovative theatre.

More information on Identities as well as tour dates can be found 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.

 

 

 

Preview | What’s Love Got To Do With It

Tina Turner the Musical might currently be wowing West End audiences, but north west fans of the iconic soul singer can look forward to a chance to see a stage celebration of her greatest hits a little closer to home in early 2019.

What’s Love Got To Do With It is a new tribute show embarking on a massive UK tour next year – featuring all the hits fans of Tina Turner would expect.

Audiences can look forward to hearing stunning musical arrangements of Tina Turner’s most-loved classic hits including Private Dancer, What’s Love Got To Do With It?, Proud Mary, River Deep, Nutbush City Limits, Simply The Best and many more.

Bringing to the stage Tina Turner’s famous high energy performances and incredible vocals will be Elesha Paul Moses (Whitney – Queen Of The Night, The Voice, X Factor) supported by a full 10-piece live band.

Speaking about playing Tina Turner, Elesha said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be touring the UK with What’s Love Got To Do With It? This is going to be a magnificent show and one that truly celebrates the incredible music and career of Tina Turner.

“Tina is a great persona to emulate on stage. I have performed as her many times over the years so to now be the lead in a show that will travel all over the UK and celebrate everything about her is an amazing opportunity and one I’m really looking forward to.”

The show comes to the Liverpool Empire on Tuesday 19th February, at the start of a massive 50 date tour.

Other north west dates in the tour include Blackpool Opera House on Saturday 20th July, Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on Friday 20th September and Warrington’s Parr Hall on Friday 13th March.

What’s Love Got To Do With It is presented by leading live entertainment promoters Cuffe & Taylor, and Paul Roberts Productions.

For more information visit www.cuffeandtaylor.com.