5 December 2014 to 4 January 2015
Reviewed by Laura Bown
I haven’t been to a panto in years, in fact since I was a child. So I was really pleased to get the chance to see Dick Whittington at the Lyceum in Sheffield last night.
The Lyceum is easily accessed, in the city centre, not far from the train station. I took my mum along with me who was quite surprised as to how the city centre has changed over recent years. We parked in the suggested car park, Q park on Charles Street. This is more expensive than other car parks in the city centre but you can request a voucher from any of the lovely staff at the Lyceum for your first hour free. It cost us £6. It was a short walk to the Lyceum through the winter gardens.
The theatre itself has recently undergone a £1.9m refurbishment and you can really tell. The foyers are clean and bright and the seats comfortable. We had a drink before the performance began, there were no queues and plenty of space. You could tell the bar had been stocked ready for a family performance, there was fresh popcorn available, the smell was quite inviting!
As we took our seats for the sold out show I did notice that there had been some changes to the staging, the orchestra had been seated in some of the boxes on the sides of the theatre, which seemed to work well. I looked round at the audience and there was a real wide range of ages from small children to grandparents, and I wondered how they would entertain them all.
The answer was with a traditional family show. There is comedy from the amazing Damian Williams as Dolly the Cook, who is the dame. A fairy telling the tale, played by Samantha Womack of EastEnders fame. A pirate captain played by Andy Day from cBeebies, whose inclusion is a big draw for the younger ones, my 4 year old saw the programme and said cBeebies, cBeebies! A love story between Dick Whittington (Jo Parsons) and Alice Fitzwarren (Gemma Sutton). There’s the baddy in the form of King Rat played by John Barr. Audience participation is essential whether it be booing King Rat or explaining the northern dialect to the southern fairy. There were also some moments where the first few rows got quite wet, so be warned! Craig Garner plays Tommy the cat, and can meow the EastEnders theme tune! There are also brilliant dancing performances from the ensemble, and the young dancers particularly shine.
Dick Whittington has been modernised well, not by setting the story in the present day, but by the inclusion of some up to date songs and music, including some from Frozen which were met by yelps of excitement by some of the young members in the audience. There were some brilliant comedy moments, all of which featured Damian Williams, whose quick witted performance really was exemplary. There is everything from slapstick comedy to smutty jokes that only the adults will really understand.
The production values are first class, the set and staging are excellent, making use of lighting and the full size of the stage. There is a swaying ship, and a very convincing large sea monster / octopus which seems to launch itself towards the audience. A word of warning here, there are a couple of elements in the show that I fear some younger children would be quite scared of. I’m sure my 4 year old daughter would have been in stiches with some of the comedy moments and loved the dance routines, but I’m also sure she would have been under the seat as the octopus came out. The show lasted a little over 2 hours, which was a little longer than I expected, again I wonder if this would be too long for some young children.
Tickets are priced from £10-£24, with a family ticket for certain performances for £70. I do think that although this is an excellent show this is a little on the expensive side.
We had a great evening and the show really does provide great family entertainment!
Tickets cost from £10 to £24 (plus booking fee).
Dick Whittington is at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield until 4 January 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0114 249 6000.
Sheffield Theatres, 55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1DA | Box Office 0114 249 6000