Christopher Biggins makes a welcome return to Plymouth in Qdos Entertainment’s Dick Whittington.
This is classic panto but less stilted and more engaging than most under the tight direction of Ken Alexander and Jonathan Kiley.
A seemingly somewhat subdued Biggins is still good value as Sarah while Basil Brush collects himself a new generation of fans with his irrepressible charm and toilet humour.
[Hilary O’Neil] showcases a great repertoire of impressions as the feisty not bovvered Spirit of The Bells helping Dick (a fresh-faced Sam Cassidy) and Tommy the Cat (an agile Lukus Alexander) thwart the nasty King Rat (Judge John Deed’s James Barron) and his henchrats.
Ben Nickless is endearing as Winkle, and the trigger for much corpsing and giggling on stage particularly when squeezing the pecs of a ripped Sultan of Morocco (Jeremy Fontanet) and losing his trumpet, and Mia Lincoln (Hairspray, Saturday Night Fever world cruise) is a sweet-looking Alice able to belt out the songs with gusto.
There are great costumes, the Theatre Royal Dancers and Babes are on good form to delight and there’s plenty of corny jokes (a bit of smut but nothing too risqué) and opportunity for hissing, booing, and ‘oh no you’re nots’.
The Twins FX’s visual effects and Hugh Durrant’s set are of particular note with the wonderful underwater episode peopled by luminous puppets and the swimming scene as Sarah and Dick are shipwrecked.
Live music is always a plus and musical director Shaun Critten is on song with the five-piece band.
Not a great panto fan, I quite enjoyed this and even laughed out loud several times.