Dick Whittington, Buxton
Dick Whittington ran at Buxton Opera House from Saturday 12th December 2009 to Saturday 2nd January 2010. Bradley played the title role alongside Arthur Bostrom and Leah Hackett in a pantomime full of comedy, drama, toe-tapping songs and colourful dance routines.
Directed by Philip Dart for Channel Theatre Productions, it told the classic tale of a poor country boy who has heard that London’s streets are paved with gold. With only a stray cat for company, Dick is determined to find fame and fortune, but his dreams are threatened by the verminous villain that controls the city’s underworld!
Neil Bonner from The Stage
This show proves that you don’t necessarily need massive names and blank-cheque production values to achieve a fine, honest-to-goodness traditional panto. A solid cast, lively script and easy-on-the-eye staging is a must, though - and this one ticks all those boxes and more.
It is blessed with two great young leads: Bradley Clarkson, in the title role and Leah Hackett as his Alice Fitzwarren, both of whom have singing voices to match their good looks and charm. They are ably supported by Mark Kempner’s amusingly doddery Alderman Fitzwarren, Arthur Bostrom (King Rat), and Nick Staverson (Sarah the Cook).
Fairy Bowbells takes the form of a young Babs Windsor, complete with her distinctive hairstyle and vocal delivery, courtesy of Keddy Sutton, while Jack Horner is a fantastically acrobatic Tommy the Cat.
The age-old tale is told straightforwardly, though Philip Dart’s script has some witty topical references, including bankers’ bonuses and Strictly Come Dancing. In fact, the comic highlight is a scene devoted to Britain’s Got Talent, complete with judging panel and a Susan Boyle spoof.
The only disappointment on my visit was the fact that more people weren’t in the lovely Opera House to enjoy it, too. Hopefully that will change in the days to come.
Philip Radcliffe by Greater Manchester's CityLife
Dick Whittington Buxton Opera House December 2009 WHEN the real Richard Whittington set out from a Gloucestershire village to London around 1350, he thought the streets would be paved with gold. Today’s panto character knows that they are. As he says, it’s a place where bankers get big bonuses and the people who work in Parliament don’t have to pay for anything.
Writer/director Philip Dart sticks more or less to the original, but naturally litters it with topical references. But he misses any gags about Boris, although Dick Whittington was actually Mayor of London 600 years ago. Dart and his team have been producing the traditional family panto here – bright, colourful, musical and all good clean fun – for umpteen years. It’s jolly, homely and a real treat for the kids.
The story takes them from rat-infested London to foreign parts, as Alderman Fitzwilliam (Mark Kempner), his daughter Alice (Leah Hackett – Hollyoaks’ Tina McQueeen) and their entourage set sail on the Saucy Sal, before being shipwrecked. They end up in Morocco, where the Sultan (Paul Morgans) also has problems with rats. The strong and energetic cast, ably led by Bradley Clarkson (a Danny finalist from Grease is the Word), really enjoy themselves.
Arthur Bostrom (Officer Crabtree from ‘Allo ‘Allo) is a splendidly booable King Rat, Nick Staverson an entertaining Dame, Keddy Sutton a Barbara Windsor-lookalike Fairy and Samantha Hilton a Susan with a great voice.
"Blessed with great young lead Bradley Clarkson in the title role whose singing voice matches his good looks and charm"
Neil Bonner, The Stage