Dick Whittington at the New Wimbledon Theatre is made up of all the ingredients a good panto needs: Fabulous costumes, sparkly sets and a script compact with one-liners, panto gags and plenty of audience participation. Dick (Sam Hallion) comes to London with his cat, Tommy (Indi-Jay Cammish), to seek his fortune. He falls in love with the daughter of an Alderman, Alice (Paul Baker and Grace Chapman, respectively) *cue romantic ping and sudden spotlights*, but is framed for stealing said Alderman’s money by the evil King Rat (Matt Harrop) *cue booing and hissing*, whose after world domination. Luckily, Fairy Bowbells (Arlene Phillips) is around in a puff of smoke, or bubble, to help him out, alongside Sally the Cook (Matthew Kelly), Idle Jack (Tim Vine) and an elastic ensemble of dancers and children.
Hallion’s Dick is a little wet at times; some lovely singing, giving us a treat with his falsetto, just lacking a bit of personality that should come at the core of the principal boy. Chapman’s Alice is not too sweet that she becomes sickly, nor too feisty, but somewhere nicely balanced in the middle, with a voice that blends in magnificent harmony with Hallion’s to fully romanticise their duets.
Tim Vine’s Idle Jack is… well… Tim Vine! Shooting out jokes faster than you can catch up with, entertaining through and through, from his asking us to stop the maths and accept the age difference between him and his mother Sally (possible, but unlikely!), to commenting on the music in the Fish Pie scene as a ‘lovely tuna’. Arlene Phillips is this panto’s main feature face on the posters, yet her Fairy Bowbells is just a little awkward at times; she just needs a bit more oomph in her presence to really make her mark on the stage. Similarly, Harrop’s King Rat is quite disappointing; not so much a panto villain, with a laugh that’s a little more manic than evil, and a bit of a wimpy personality.
The ensemble of dancers allows this panto to burst with energy, filling the stage with precision and technique with exciting, dynamic choreography by Aaron Renfree. Some of the song choices feel a little flat or samey, but ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’, and ‘Go West’ are great choices which give the opportunity for the dancers to show off their talents. The costumes and set are animated, colourful and created with wacky patterns and shapes, like something out of an exploding sweet shop; a particular highlight being Sally the Cook’s ‘Bag for Life’ dress.
Writer (Eric Potts) and Director (Ian Talbot) include some panto classics: An ‘it’s behind you’ gag featuring a gorilla with a bottle of Ribena, a rendition of ‘If I were not upon this ship…’ and a slapstick scene making a Fish Pie. It would have been nice to have seen a bit of slop in the slop scene, although Tim Vine’s reeling of fish-related puns is hilarious nonetheless.
A non-stop laughing panto which pulls out all the stops; at times, a little underwhelming, but nevertheless, it has all the necessities of a classic British panto, with Tim Vine’s comedy stealing most of the show and keeping us on our toes. Enough local references to keep to the tradition, with a chorus of children that make the whole thing a total delight.
Review by Joseph Winer
Join Dick and his feline friend Tommy on his fun-filled quest for fame and fortune. Will the streets really be paved with gold? Will he win the hand of the lovely Alice – and will he defeat the dastardly King Rat? There’s only one way to find out…
With sumptuous sets, gorgeous fairytale costumes, big song and dance numbers and bags of audience participation, you have a guaranteed enchanting experience full to the brim with fun, festivity and laughter for the whole family.
It strictly won’t be Christmas unless you catch this magical treat at the home of London’s best value pantomime.
Press Night: Tuesday 13th December 2016, 7pm
Friday 9 December 2016 – Sunday 15 January 2017
The Broadway, SW19 1QG