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Mirth, magic and melody as Dick Whittington is a perfect panto at the Harlow Playhouse!

Harlow Playhouse / Sat 7th Dec 2013 am31 11:50am

THE opening night for Dick Whittington at the Harlow Playhouse had just about everything you could want from a pantomime.

Playing to a packed audience, they were treated to well over two hours of wonderful singing, great acting, laugh-out loud comedy, that was enjoyed by four-year-olds and 84-year-olds alike.

Starring Rebecca Keatley from CBBC and Channel 5’s Jen Pringle, the whole cast exuded warmth, charm, talent and energy in a panto that was greatly helped by a really good script, great sets, top notch production values and great songs.

The panto is led by the lovely Rebecca Keatley who radiates energy, enthusiasm and welshness as she charts her journey from rags to riches. And her role was complimented by Jen Pringle who was a lovely, enchanting fairy of the bells

However this panto is all about the interplay and a special mention has to go to Nicholas Collett as Barnacle Babs and Kevin James as Bosun Willie Wontie.

Many pantos depend on a great double act in the middle and these two had a natural spark.

Babs started with an immediate piece of audience participation (Hello Julian) that engaged the audience from the beginning whilst Willie’s punning, knockabout humour and sense of fun energised the whole production.

James Parkes as Fitzwarren and Dom Pedro was also a stand out performer. Looking like a mixture between Boycie from Only Fools and Horses and Bill the Butcher (google him). He had a lot of stage time but in many ways was the glue that kept the panto together.

Every panto needs a baddie and Paul Leno’s Queen Rat was quite a frightening site indeed. It was a nice touch to have him reference payday loans quite a lot. His rendition of One Way/Teenage Kicks was impressive and he commanded the stage as every good baddie should!

The use of Russian circus performer, Yana Rodionova was a stroke of genius.Her first piece of gymnastic artistry had the audience gasping and the hula-hoop work was unbelievable as well.

On reflection, we felt that the first half was good but the second half was great. We really felt that the second half had great scene after great scene and for all different reasons.

Among the highlights were two striking scenes: one underwater and another using skeletor type characters that was very very clever.

The Rio scenes are particularly entertaining although be warned, you may have the words: “The Playhouse, the Harlow Playhouse” to the tune of Copacabana in your head all Christmas!

By the final bow, you did not really want it to end. You wanted them to come out and do a few more numbers.

Mention has to go to the production team. Some pantos can have their shoestring budgets showing. This one looked spectacular and felt spectacular and you knew that a lot of hard work and ingenuity had gone into this.

Most of all, there was a real sense of warmth and charm about this pantomime. Go see it and after that and after telling all your friends, turn around and go see it again.

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