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Is it really December if you don’t make a trip to the panto? You simply can’t ignore this British tradition…
This year, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds have taken on the tale of Dick Whittington. It’s a much-loved story that we are all familiar with, where a young, handsome and fair Country boy comes to London as a runaway from home, in order to conquer the rats and become our Lord Mayor.
Sticking to the roots of the tale and panto form, this production of which is very traditional, and its all the better for it. It’s filled with innuendo, which is even more amusing when you watch the children’s faces puzzled as to why their parents are giggling away. You can expect yourself attempting to avoid the splash zone – a place I unfortunately didn’t avoid as I took a squirt to the chest… thanks to the cheeky kitty Tommy! Warm your vocal chords and be ready for all the audience participation of boos, cheers and sing-a-longs, and if you’re lucky, you might bag some sweets too!
Held together by a strong cast, each with an impressive number of credits behind them; proving you don’t need “star casting” for a sell-out or a great evenings entertainment! Chris Clarkson as Dame Winona Whittington was a treat. I believe it takes a certain type of actor to pull off a dame, and he did it with such charm. In a gender swapped role, Jessica Spalis as Dick Whittington was a joy. Though a particular highlight for me, was Tessa Kadler as Alice was as she had a stand-out voice and played the dorky yet adorable Alice brilliantly. Though each member deserves a hearty round of applause.
As for the music, you’ll hear the likes of panto favourite of Holding Out For A Hero, well-known hits from across the years including Take That’s Greatest Day, Queen’s We Are The Champions and Walk The Moon’s Shut Up and Dance With Me. A notable moment was hearing local lad Ed Sheeran’s divide album track of How Would You Feel turned into a romantic ballad between Dick and Alice – even a few kids on the back row couldn’t resist the urge to sway along.
The sets and costumes are impressive, in particular there was an underwater scene that left kids and adults alike in awe; and for me, I think Tommy the Cat won best costume! I loved the level of detail.
Overall, you can expect everything you want to see in a panto – music, magic, fun and laughter. It’s the perfect festive family treat, in a lovely welcoming venue. Never underestimate the power of small regional theatres – as I’d argue this is one of the best of its kind, so get there if you can.
Catch Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds until the 14th January 2018; but tickets are flying out fast, so don’t delay. Book now: www.theatreroyal.org/dick-whittington.