Dick Whittington at Harrogate Theatre, reviewed by Katie Oxtoby and family
It’s panto time again and Harrogate Theatre has once more produced a superb show that’s as spectacular as it is silly.
Dick Whittington may not have much of a story to it – the only incident of any note is when Dick is wrongly accused of stealing some money – but there are so many jokes, slapstick, music and crazy characters that you don’t even notice.
As expected, all the traditional elements of pantomime are present: custard pies, the ‘It’s behind you!’ scene, great music and dance routines, cheesy jokes alongside genuinely funny ones, oodles of audience participation, outrageous costumes and glittering sets.
But there are some glorious novel touches too, such as a spellbinding under-the-sea routine with neon puppets. And writers Phil Lowe and David Bown – who have finely honed their art after almost a decade together – have ensured there’s no shortage of Harrogate in-jokes.
In his 17th panto playing the fool at Harrogate Theatre, Tim Stedman absolutely nails it this year as Idle Jack. He’s ridiculous and funny without being over the top, and his comic timing and audience engagement is impeccable.
The other cast members are faultless, too. Howard Chadwick as the Dame and Christopher Chilton as Fairy Bow Bells/King of the Fairies both seem to be thoroughly enjoying their roles, not to mention their outlandish costumes.
Katy Dean, in her sixth Harrogate panto, is menacing enough as the beastly Queen Rat to make my youngest child (aged 4) burrow her head in my chest every time she appears.
Harriett Hare and Harriet Harper make a charming and sweet couple as Alice Fitzwarren and Dick Whittington and, despite not uttering a word, Alice Barrott as Tommy the Cat is as memorable as the other characters.
This really is pantomime at its finest, funniest and most fabulous.
If you live within travelling distance of Harrogate Theatre, count yourself incredibly lucky and grab your ticket while you can!
The children’s verdict
Elin, aged four: “The bit with the troll was really funny and I liked shouting ‘It’s behind you!’. It was really funny, too, when Idle Jack got hit in the face with the custard pies.”
Lois, aged seven: “I liked every single bit of it. I thought it was very exciting and I liked the music.
"My favourite bit was when they did The Twelve Days of Christmas song with the water pistol shaped like a tree and Sarah the Cook kept squirting it into the audience.”
Faye, aged nine: “I really liked the whole thing, it was the best panto I’ve ever seen. It was really funny and I loved the music and dancing. =
"My favourite part was The Twelve Days of Christmas with the Christmas tree water pistol. I also liked it when they were on the boat and Idle Jack couldn’t work out everyone’s names.”
Dick Whittington - Harrogate Theatre runs until January 15, 2017.