It was a very special night in Wolverhampton last night, as the jewel in the city’s crown (sorry Wolves, but as an adopted Wulfrunian and Baggies fan that can never be you ) celebrated its 125th anniversary with a gala performance of this year’s panto ‘Dick Whittington’ featuring a very special, much loved guest.
The legendary Jimmy Tarbuck made a return to the theatre to herald the start of the birthday celebrations, taking the role of the Sultan and having the audience howl with laughter as he proved that the old ones are definitely the best ones. He was matched in the laughter stakes by the panto, a gloriously old fashioned slapstick romp that has everything you want in a pantomime, glitter, sparkle, songs and lots of silliness.
Dick Whittington is one of the classic pantomimes, and this years cast are having a ball with it. Former Coronation Street favourite Ryan Thomas is Dick, the young man who makes his way to London to make his fortune, meeting a (talking) cat Tommy along the way. In London they find Alderman Fitzwarren in need of help in his stores, not least due to a problem with rats, and Dick duly falls in love with the Alderman’s lovely daughter Alice. But Queen Rat wants revenge on the Alderman and his family for conflict in the past, and uses her magic to thwart Dick at every turn. Can Fairy Bow Bells ensure that all’s well that ends well?
The cast of this panto is a fabulous balance of new and old favourites. Ryan Thomas is a likeable presence in the lead role, bringing an easy charm, and he is well matched by the lovely Katie Marie-Carter as Alice, who shows an impressive singing range. Panto’s best dame Ian Adams is back, raising lots of laughs with a string of double entendres, with the fabulous Julie Paton also back at the Grand, and once again excelling as Fairy Bow Bells.
The Hi De Hi favourites Su Pollard and Jeffrey Holland are reunited to great effect, especially when we see them transformed into their much loved Hi De Hi characters. Su in particular is a hoot in the role of the villainous Queen Rat, one of the most hilarious baddies you will ever meet. But the stand out performances come from Aaron James as Idle Jack, and Jordan Ginger as Tommy the Cat. Aaron is just brilliant at ad libbing, and shows of his talent with an A-Z of impressions, all of which hit the mark. Jordan’s ultra posh, and sometimes rapping cat is a real audience favourite, and he is definitely a name to watch out for.
The staging is impressive and as glossy and glamorous as you expect a panto to be, and their is one particularly showstopping moment which involves a rat which I will not give away, but needs to be seen.
Unashamedly silly, gloriously funny and superb fun, Dick Whittington is a family delight.
11 Dec – 12 Jan 2020
Click here for ticket information