REVIEW: Dick Whittington, Lowther Pavilion, Lytham
This production of Dick Whittington, the first staged in Lytham by Paul Holman Associates, is by far the Lowther Pavilion's best festive offering for years.
Written and directed by father and son team Ben and Keith Simmons - who also display all the tricks of a comedian’s trade on stage - the show successfully brings together many of elements of a traditional pantomime.
The excellent dancers from Blackpool’s Langley Dance Centre, Adam Ludwell’s choreography and Simon Goldring’s live keyboard music with percussionist Michael Peters all provide accomplished support to a very strong principal cast.
The rich-voiced Matthew Wellman speaks and sings perfectly in the title role, with the angular and energetic Danny Rogers engaging as Idle Jack.
Millie Hansford from Thornton Cleveleys belts out her songs as Alice Fitzwarren, while Gracie Stiling does her utmost with her rhyming couplets in the always unrewarding role of Fairy Bow Bells.
It’s a pity there are not just a tad fewer puns, and also a more active role in the script for the colourfully-costumed Sarah the Cook (Will Nightingale. Instead the comic honours belong to the Simmons pair as Captain Birdseye and his mate Findus. Their ‘disappearing cabinet’ routine may be straight from the musical hall, but it was a scene of wonderful visual, physical and verbal comedy.
Pleasingly, opportunities to engage with the audience are not overdone. The cast themselves clearly were enjoying the performance hugely, with an admirable ability to make fun of themselves, first night glitches and the script with some spontaneous ad libs.
The well-crafted script has something for those of all ages, with three endearing tinies invited on stage for a singalong, plenty of TV references, a spectacular finale and, throughout, a refreshing spontaneity.
Until December 30.