Dick Whittington, Towngate Theatre Basildon, 2011/12

The Stage – Review by Nick Dines

After penning Towngate’s 2010 Aladdin success, Brad Fitt collaborates once more with seasoned pantomime veteran and this year’s likeable lead, Simon Fielding. As producer, director and choreographer, cherubic-faced Fielding does everything bar serving the interval ice creams.

Tapping into a catalogue of current hits, including a well-received Jessie J/Bruno Mars mash-up, intricate choreography concocted by Fielding, Nikki Worrall and dance captain Laura Bouttell deserves acclaim, demonstrating many of the cast do have moves like Jagger.

Pulsating dance sequences on-board the ominously swaying ship deck and in the daunting sewer dungeons wouldn’t look out of place on Broadway, especially during standout numbers Proud Mary and in particular, Too Darn Hot, performed in the sultan’s Moroccan palace.

Armed with Dale Farm taunts, a memorable Rat Out of Hell rendition epitomises Andrew Piper’s dastardly King Rat. Straight out of the Rodent Shakespearean Company, Piper cranks up the bile with every mist-filled appearance, however you’ll literally be bowled over by his plagues extermination.

Clearly channelling elements of Stacey Solomon, Sophie Ladds’ flying The Only Way is Essex enthusiast Fairy Bowbells is a guaranteed hit, as is Peter Brad-Leigh’s suggestive Sarah the Cook, continuously gurning and full of the inevitable titillating tongue in cheek gags.

In the words of Fairy B, the production is indeed, well, ‘reem’ and like the boy in the John Lewis advert, you’ll be counting down the days until next Christmas.