Dick Whittington

Ashleigh Butler as Alice Fitzwarren & Pudsey
Ashleigh Butler as Alice Fitzwarren & Pudsey
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Manchester Opera House

Taking my princess-obsessed daughter to see Dick Whittington didn’t immediately fill her with joy, but I was still confident she would warm to this year’s festive treat at the Manchester Opera House.

We arrived at the venue where we were confusingly handed 3D glasses, and told they would be needed during the second half of the performance, so we packed them away for later and went to find our seats.

We’ve seen a few pantos in the last few years, and apart from the odd addition of 3D glasses this one seemed no different.

Audience participation and slap-stick humour was provided by the reliable and ever present Tam Ryan as Idle Jack, who guided us through Dick Whittington’s adventure in London which has been expertly penned and directed by panto vetran Eric Potts.

The production also stars CBeebies’ Ben Faulks as Dick Whittington, Jodie Prenger as Fairy Bow Bells and Britain’s Got Talent 2012 winners Ashleigh and Pudsy as Alice Fitzwarren and her dog, not that my daughter had the first clue who any of them were, other than Pudsy of course.

As with all pantomimes the music was eclectic and fun, with Jodie Prenger particularly impressing with her vocals, however, this did highlight some vocal weaknesses elsewhere, but the overwhelming fun and enthusiasm from the individual performances made up for any bum notes.

Great comedy performances from Eric Potts as Sarah the cook, Samuel Holmes as King Rat and Ben Goffe as Captain Titchworth, combined with the cute factor being provided by a few short appearances of Pudsy the dog had us all laughing throughout.

Finally, and much to my daughters delight, our 3D glasses were needed during a shipwreck scene early in the second half, when we were entertained by characters from Finding Nemo in what can only be described as a 3D animated sub-plot to the pantomime itself.

As shows go, this has all the fun, songs and interaction that every pantomime should have, but I never gauge how good a panto is from my own expectations, I just watch all the laughing, shouting, dancing and smiling from my daughter; and trust me, she loved it!