Grove Park Theatre’s annual pantomime proved a decisive hit with the audience for one of the first shows of their month-long run. Dick Whittington and his cat, which we previewed earlier in the week, is a polished production with numerous strong individual performances, excellent choreography and dancing, and an array of eye-catching sets and costumes.
While many of the jokes, in the best panto tradition, would have surely been considered rather old back in the 14th century when the real Dick Whittington was around, the characters are definitely up to date. Natasha Hughes’s The Only Way Is Essex-inspired Fairy Bling is hilarious, as are the Olympics hopefuls Track and Field, played by Gemma Richards and Tom Penny. The more traditional pantomime characters are all just as good, Lisa Scolari and Julie Blagrove making a nice couple as leads Dick and Alice, Andrew Mansell playing an entertaining dame and Matthew Richards being a truly hissable King Rat. Rounding out the cast are Chris Jones as Idle Jack, Si Price as Alderman Fitzwarren, and the incredibly acrobatic Sammie Evans as Tommy The Cat, along with a talented chorus including some younger children who are talented dancers and singers.
The music ranges from modern pop with Take That’s Greatest Day and Bruno Mars’ Marry You, to London songs like Maybe It’s Because I’m A Londoner, to kids’ favourites including Row, Row, Row Your Boat and I Am The Music Man. Audience participation, of course, is heavily encouraged and the four youngsters who ended up on stage on Saturday with Idle Jack, Tommy and Track and Field to perform I Am The Music Man nearly stole the show.
All in all, it was great to see so many happy families leaving, and at just £26 for a family ticket to a near three hour show (which never dragged), this must be one of Wrexham’s best value nights out this Christmas.