Visitors to Loughborough Town Hall’s production of Dick Whittington this Christmas time will feel like the cat that got the cream - as the show lived up to its reputation as one of the region’s best seasonal shows.
For a small venue compared to the nearby likes of Nottingham and Derby, Loughborough has consistently punched above its weight, with a slick, professional show jam-packed with panto fun, big cheesy laughs, stunning set pieces such as the sea scene, sloppy slapstick, soaring singing, the amazing work by the young chorus line, and the loveable Dame Sarah the Cook - the ever-present, ever-brilliant Martin Ballard. Everything about his performance from his persona to his handling of the children that come on stage to his costumes is simply top notch - take a bow Martin. Oh, you can’t, you’re dressed as a giant clock.
Of course, Martin isn’t the only familiar feature of the show - and I’m not talking just about the script - as this year sees once again stand-out performances from regular cast members. Sarah’s incapable assistant Idle Jack, played by Charlie Guest, is hilarious both with his physical humour and his groan-inducing jokes. In addition, doubling up on roles both Anna Mitcham (Alice Fitzwarren/Fairy Bowbells) and Roy Weskin (Alderman Fitzwarren/Sultan of Morocco) show why they’ve both been invited back again.
And Loughborough-raised Dick Whittington himself (or is that herself) sees a great feisty and fun lead role from Town Hall first-timer Natalie Tulloch, as he heads to London to seek his fame and fortune alongside a rather marvellous Tommy the Cat, played by Shiv Rabheru. His performance portraying the animal through just dance and a few mews was truly endearing, and my two junior reporters who watched the show with me picked Tommy out as their favourite character - no mean feat when not being able to speak.
But for me, the real reason that Dick Whittington is such a triumph this year are the bad guys (boo, hiss). Sion Lloyd’s King Rat and Jamie Sheerman’s Stinky are a gas - at times literally. They’re the gruesome twosome that you love to hate, with their tail-strumming, toilet humour and devious plots.
So I slap my thigh in salute to Dick Whittington, which is on at Loughborough Town Hall through until January 6, and Imagine Theatre - it’s hard to imagine a festive season without them.
To find out more about our pantomimes, please contact us.