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REVIEW | Dick Whittington | Birmingham Hippodrome

The Birmingham Hippodrome pantomime is well known around the country for being of the highest quality. With a star-studded cast, incredible technical illusions and even elements of 3D, it is a tremendous spectacle.

This year, the Hippodrome tell the story of Dick Whittington (John Barrowman), a young man and his (very Brummy) cat as they embark on an adventure. After falling in love with Alice (Danielle Hope), the evil King Rat (Steve McFadden) gets in the way, and Alice’s father banishes him. Dick Whittington leaves London in hopes to clear his name.

Basking in innuendos and numerous cheeky gags, it is definitely a show that will have the adults in hysterics. However, that doesn’t mean the kids leave without having howled with laughter – mainly due to Hippodrome favourite Matt Slack and his exceptional performance.

Leading the cast as the charming Dick Whittington, multi-talented John Barrowman captures the warmth of the role with his expressive portrayal of the young man. Already adored because of his dashing looks and charismatic personality, Barrowman brings pure entertainment to the production, as his corpsing and improvisation is comedy gold.

Joining him onstage, Steve McFadden who is best known as playing the villainous Phil Mitchell in Eastenders, excellently depicts the menacing King Rat, with his thunderous laugh and frightening smile. Similarly, comedy duo The Krankies create a lot of laughs with their witty back and fourth banter.

However, it is Matt Slack that steals the show yet again this year as Idle Jack. His natural stage presence and effortless humour is what brings so many audiences back to see him every year. His interactions with the dame, Sarah The Cook, played by Andrew Ryan are priceless year after year. A particular highlight being their DVD sketch, in which Jack drives Sarah The Cook up the wall with his musical responses when she is trying to tell a distressing story.

With all the production values of a West End show, in keeping with this, musical theatre royalty Jodie Prenger and Danielle Hope enhance this year’s panto as Fairy Bow Bells and love interest Alice. Jodie’s glorious vocals are showcased as she enters the stage as the dazzling fairy. The sublime vocal talent is mirrored in Danielle Hope’s sweet performance of the beautiful Alice.

A Hippodrome panto wouldn’t be complete without a remarkable set and divine costumes, not to mention the ensemble, that bring heaps of energy to the production with sharp choreography and powerful vocals. With renditions of popular pop songs, and even a chance for the audience to join in, it is a truly unforgettable show.

The Birmingham Hippodrome have seriously outdone themselves yet again this festive season.

On until the 29th of January, tickets can be found here.

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