04:32PM, Friday 30 November 2018
You don’t have to go to London to find gold this winter, it’s right here on stage in Windsor.
This thigh-slappingly splendid production of Dick Whittington brings fun (and hopefully fortune) to the Theatre Royal, which celebrates 80 years of pantomime this year.
The show begins with a flash of magic as Fairy Bowbells (Marti Webb) flits on to the stage, waves her wand and begins the action.
We meet Dick (AJ Jenks) and his fox (an upgrade from the usual cat, especially when it’s Basil Brush) off to seek their fortune in the capital.
Basil boasts: “I’m the best ratcatcher in Europe, next year I’ll be the best ratcatcher outside of Europe” – and he’s got the stuff to prove it.
The pair win jobs in the house of Alderman Fitzwarren (Mike Read) and his beautiful daughter Alice (Megan Jones). And there are Sarah the Cook and her son Jack – Windsor favourites Steven Blakeley and Kevin Cruise ready to stir up some slapstick fun.
Soon there’s evil Queen Rat (Anita Harris) to deal with, adventure on the high seas and Jack insulting the Sultan of Morocco.
The action rollicks along, helped by some fantastic numbers, a live band and properly good singing.
My son enjoyed hearing some of The Greatest Showman songs, a great rendition of Michael Jackson's Bad and a disco medley that had the audience on their feet.
I loved Who Let The Fox Out, with the youngest dancers swinging their tails in very sweet style.
The costumes are superb, especially Sarah's outfits – her brassiere made of colanders was particularly eye-catching.
And as she proudly announced: "It’s my 10th year in panto here, I’m as hard to get rid of as Theresa May."
A very game dame indeed...
Scenes such as cooking capers and shipwreck shenanigans had the audience in stitches, the image of Sarah's rogue sausage will stay with me for some time.
And speaking of shenanigans, Mike Read's Irish accent as Captain Fisheye is very special, far and away the most ambitious brogue since Tom Cruise. To be sure.
A hilarious, happy show, with giggles for all ages. For me this is the Theatre Royal Windsor's best panto ever – gold standard.
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