REVIEW & GALLERY Dick Whittington, Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham has many Christmas traditions; from the Frankfurt Markets to the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s stunning production of The Nutcracker, but nothing quite says Christmas in the city like the Hippodromes pantomime.

Every year Birmingham Hippodrome team up with Qudos Entertainment to pull out what is, in my opinion, the best pantomime in the business – and Dick Whittington certainly didn’t disappoint.

With spectacular visual effects from The Twins FX and a star-studded cast featuring Torchwood’s John Barrowman as the leading gent, panto favourite Matt Slack and Eastenders’ Steve McFadden there was no way the crowd were leaving the theatre with nothing less than a smile on their faces.

Panto’s are the quintessentially British gift that just keeps on giving; a joy for not only children Dick Whittington was packed with adult slap-stick innuendos and daft comedy that will have you belly laughing from beginning to end.

Qudos seemed to have stepped away from the traditional ‘Oh, no you didn’t’ and the classic ‘He’s behind you!’ and traded it for a script that boasts endless humour that see’s Matt Slack (Idle Jack) fall off the stage on to the orchestra pit and the most side-splitting version of 12 Day’s of Christmas I’ve ever seen.

A good panto lies in the heart of the cast and thanks to the efforts of not only the leading roles but the ensemble too, Dick Whittington showcased what pantomime is all about to its highest abilities with dazzling choreography, chart-topping hits and buckets of energy.

Whilst Barrowman – the entertainer with a capital E – had the audience in the palm of his hand with his brave attempt at nailing the Brummie accent, I have to praise Birmingham Panto favourite Matt Slack for his champion performance as Idle Jack.

From cramming all Midlands towns into one heck of a fast-paced song to squirting John Barrowman up his kilt with a water gun, Slack had the crowd doubled over in laughter with his on-going antics. Not forgetting the incredible banter between Jack and his mother Sarah The Cook (Andrew Ryan) – because every panto needs a Dame.

Not only was Slack on fine form, the loveable Krankies were on top of their game as they returned to the Hippodrome following six seasons at Glasgow’s SECC. Taking on the roles of Councillor and Jimmy Krankie, the dynamic duo reign the panto champions – with plenty of innuendo thrown in for good measure.

It’s not just the casting that made Dick Whittington a cut above the rest in the panto world. Qudos and The Twins FX have certainly pulled out all the stops with quality 3D visuals that got both children and adults screaming, paired with show-stopping animatronics, props and set design.

If you’re looking for a show that’ll leave your jaw and belly hurting from laughing so much, filled with fun, excitement, a fantastic cast, script and everything in between, then head to the Hippodrome and watch the spectacular Dick Whittington. I promise you won’t regret it – five stars!

Dick Whittington runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Sunday January 29.

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Take a look at our gallery of images from the Dick Whittington press night!

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