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Dick Whittington review at Hippodrome, Birmingham – ‘slick panto fun’

John Barrowman in Dick Whittington at Hippodrome, Birmingham. Photo: Paul Coltas
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You’ve got to hand it to the Krankies. The husband and wife team have been in the industry together for 50 years and here they are, headlining in Dick Whittington, one of Qdos’ biggest shows in the UK. Weathering the vicissitudes of the variety circuit the pair are still doing the same act and it’s still very funny although it’s Matt Slack as Idle Jack, the Hippodrome pantomime regular, who gets the biggest laughs on his home turf.

Birmingham is understandably referenced far more than London but this is a production where most of the narrative values have been skewed to accommodate the stars. Alice and Puss barely get a look-in and even Steve McFadden’s gruff, croaking King Rat barely raises his head above the parapet of special effects and the frenzied waving of pheasant plumes. Jodie Prenger’s Fairy of the Bow Bells opens the show on a light note but neither her nor Danielle Hope’s Alice get much of a chance to prove their not inconsiderable vocal talent. This production is all about Dick and its star, John Barrowman, never lets the audience forget this.

Thankfully Barrowman’s Dick still has pulling power and the showman knows intrinsically how to work the crowd. In collusion with The Krankies, with whom he has worked many times before, Barrowman’s boyish charm holds true, although here it’s buoyed up by many special effects and a rich dose of Qdos magic.

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Entertaining and slick panto fun but too many stars and not enough story