Review: Dick Whittington is thigh-slapping, side-splitting fun
Nov 27, 2023
Photo of the cast of Harrogate Theatre's 2023 pantomime production of Dick Whittington.
The cast of Dick Whittington.

An extravagant dame, a wicked villain, high jinks and many an excitable child: it must be pantomime season.

Harrogate Theatre’s 2023 show is the thigh-slapping, side-splitting Dick Whittington, and it’s another swashbuckler for the panto lovers out there.

Spirited, sparkling and silly, the tale of Dick Whittington’s adventure to London and beyond makes for the perfect panto plot with bountiful boisterous frolics. The fun-loving cast is infectiously energetic, indulging its audience in a couple of hours of folly and fancy.

The youngest audience members, many dressed up for the occasion, had a ball, singing, dancing and revelling in their participation – especially the many opportunities to shout, boo and hiss.

The grown-ups don’t miss out, with gags to tickle even the weariest parent, and the panto is Harrogate through and through, with mention of local politics aplenty. A rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas doubles up as an advert for many of the town’s local specialties, from Weeton’s hampers to Taylors tea and Pizza Parada.

Set changes are as frequent as the dame’s outfit swaps, and the whole stage is awash with colour, glitter and merriment. A true variety performance, the show is jam-packed with audience interaction, runabouts, singalongs and slapstick humour, and sprinkled with cheeky twists on popular songs, covering everything from Elton John to Harry Styles.

The brilliantly rambunctious Michael Lambourne as the evil King Rat delivered two of my personal favourites: These Claws Are Made for Walking and a rip-roaring rendition of Rat Out of Hell.

As the countdown to Christmas begins, Harrogate Theatre’s custard-pie-covered, water-pistol-soaked, fairy-dusted panto is just the way to get into the spirit. Oh yes, it is!

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