There are some traditions that just make Christmas a little bit special and one of them is most definitely the family pantomime, a British tradition which first started in 1717 and since then pantomime have become big business, with huge household names and celebrities taking starring roles in productions up and down the country, this gives us; the audience a lot of choice.
Tonight, I attended Dick Whittington and his Wonderful Cat at the Altrincham Garrick Playhouse.
Dick Whittington is a fantastic traditional pantomime which is based on the true story of Richard Whittington who lived in London in the Middle Ages, I don't think there was a giant King Rat in real life but can't say for sure as I wasn't around back then, but I was around to witness Mike Shaw take on the role of King Rat, playing the character well tonight with a thespian grace about him, playing opposite Helen Lawrence as Spirit of the Bells, Laurence was a friendly smiley face and picked the mood right up when she burst onto the stage.
It must be said that for an amateur production, the set was to a very good standard and featured all the tricks and magic of a big commercial Panto, at times the cast weren't at the big commercial level but one of the joys of Panto is that it isn't perfect, if it was a show without ad libs and flawless singing, it wouldn't be the same, and a Panto is the only show I'd let off. Ewan Henderson and Howard Yaffe as Captain Cockles and Mr Mussels bundled on the stage but their delivery was not the best for panto and there were silences when there should have been belly laughs. Two members of the cast who bid provide the laughs throughout were Phil Edwards as the fantastic Sarah the Cook and Peter Brassington as Idle Jack, they were engaging and although they were performing Panto routines which is seen hundreds of times before, it felt fresh, and more importantly funny, as I looked out on a sea of laughing kids; I was impressed.
That is of course one of the other fantastic reasons to take your family to a pantomime, it introduces children to the theatre and musical arts, I know that one of the reasons I fell in love with the theatre was from my annual trip to the pantomime as a child, I loved it and still do; the silliness, the music, the jokes, the lavish costumes and sets, the lights and the magic and it was good to see all that tonight at the Garrick.
The lead role is of course Dick Whittington himself or I should say herself as taking the role was Meg Royle, who gave a terrific performance alongside Daisy Brocklehurst as Tommy the Cat and Claire Louise Garrett as Alice Fitzwarren, I felt bad for Garrett in tonight's performance as every time she was to perform a solo song, the microphones were off slightly and the backing would come in far louder than her, not her fault of course but something the tech people should look at for future performances. Rounding off the main cast was Ivor Farley as Alderman Fitzwarren who gave a good performance but special mention should go to the backing chorus who were fantastic, the dancing was pretty much spot on and the singing just complemented the show even more.
This isn't a commercial big budget pantomime but if you’re looking for a good family trip to the theatre which gets the family together and inspires the little ones, then it's off to old London you go, well Altrincham Garrick in this case, with performances till January 2nd.
Reviewer: Maxwell Eden
Reviewed: 16th December 2016