Turn Northern again, Dick
A pantomime so magnetically northern you could set your compass by it!
Indeed you probably couldn’t stage this production anywhere else without adding sub-titles.
Jodie Prenger and Tam Ryan set the strong regional tone, aided by writer and director Eric Potts’ broad Lancashire humour.
The latter even expands his own rotund role, as Sarah the Cook, helped by a range of costumes that seem more than slightly influenced by the Great British Bake Off.
The less said about Potts in a bikini, the better...
It may be the turn of Dick Whittington this time but his panto magic formula remains the same.
And while all that glitters on the eye-popping sets may not be gold, this show is almost overburdened with riches.
Ashleigh and Pudsey top the bill but the performing dog gets only occasional exercise, while Ashleigh Butler stars as Alice Fitzwarren.
Singing isn’t her strong point but she shows no lack of stage presence, with or without canine sidekick, and her duets with Ben Faulks in the title role are bold enough. Sharing a stage with a bona fide songsmith like Jodie Prenger is hardly a fair fight though.
Tam Ryan shoulders the main comedy burden as Idle Jack in timeless cheeky chappie style and is especially adept when bringing four kids from the audience onto the stage to join in the now equally-timeless rendition of this year’s viral community sing-song – What Does the Fox Say?
Elsewhere this panto positively flaunts its big budget with an underwater animated 3D film sequence.
What it has to do with the story, who knows? By that time, who cares? We’ve already had a break-dancing dwarf and a novelty sausage routine.
This is pantomime with Northern Fun written rightthrough it – subtle as a stick of rock.
It runs until January 5.