Dick Whittington is the famous story about a young man who became lord mayor of London. But Panto is much more fun that that – Oh no it isn’t. Oh Yes, it is!
Dick heads to London with his famous cat as he believes the roads are paved with gold. There he meets Alice who helps her brother run a shop selling rat poison as London is over run with rats and falls in love (known as the ping moment). With Tommy, the cat helping Dick to get rid of the rats, Dick is offered a job there. Jack also works in the shop and along with Sarah the cook, and they all go on a big adventure which leads them to meet Queen Rat.
Kev Orkian comes on and introduces himself. ’I’m Jack – this year’. Those who saw Aladdin last year would know already how funny he is but he honestly is fabulous in the role of Jack. He is Kev ‘Panto’ Orkian as not only he is funny – he is everything a panto is about. He has perfect timing, is extremely like-able and can read an audience well. ‘Milton Keynes gets more beautiful each year. Hello beautiful, beautiful, beautiful…alright!’. He says so much with his face without saying another word! But as well as singing and dancing he makes you laugh so much that the show feels like it is his. He is such a natural. It is almost a shame he has no chance to show off his other skills – he is also an accomplished pianist and has had his own show in Vegas this year with a repeat in 2017. Milton Keynes should be queuing around the block to see him – such a talent.
Sam Womack plays the Queen Rat and yes, she plays a baddie – but is such a likeable one. She can sing, dance and is so sassy – such a cool rat. And is outstanding in the second half where she goes head to head with Dick in a lip Sync battle. Most would know her from EastEnders, but I still remember her when she was in Game On. This panto shows her range of acting skills and adds another string to her bow. Sam told me afterwards that Game On was her favourite thing that she has done ‘It was so much fun’.
Stacey Solomon is probably best known for appearing on the X-Factor, but has since been a loose woman and a mum from Iceland. There is no doubt that Stacey can sing and she is enjoyable to watch. She plays Fairy Bowbells and opens the show floating in the air in a stunning dress.
Alice is played by Hannah Ponting and she has a great voice and presence on stage. She has a resemblance of Kylie Minogue when she appeared in Neighbours, giving that girl-next-door image and if she is Charlene then her Scott/Jason Donovan counterpart is Chris Jenkins who plays Dick Whittington. He is very affable and they make a lovely couple. And of course, a panto with Dick in it lends itself to a lot of Dick jokes. Dick jokes are suggestive at best…and why is Richard shortened to Dick is still a mystery – but it works in a panto. I loved Dick!
Sarah the cook is played by Kevin Brewis in his first drag role. He is funny and very good at ad-libbing as when the oven door didn’t open he added some of his own lines. This is exactly the sort of talent that is needed in a panto. Totally brilliant. Sarah and Jack make some dinner. Some kind of sausage pie. Harry Hill should take note. This sketch alone is worth the ticket price – the audience was crying with laughter!
The cast are great and the dance numbers are very enjoyable with great choreography and fantastic outfits.
The second half really does step it up a notch with a Lip sync battle which is fabulous as there is a sing off between the Rat Queen and Dick. Queen Rat does Kate Bush (Wuthering Heights) and Honey G (from X-Factor) while Dick does a brilliant Queen (Bohemian Rhapsody). It’s all leading up to a great finale where everyone in the audience was on their feet singing and dancing.
This is a panto with everything you would want. It has Christmas cracker jokes, a love story, great dance numbers, a man in drag and it even has a 3D film underwater film with real 3D images which really do come out the screen at you. Even as an adult I was amazed. There is every reason to go see it, but don’t take my word for it – trust the audience who were on their feet singing, dancing, clapping and laughing!
Dick Whittington is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 15 January 2017.