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REVIEW: ‘Jet-propelled, super powered’ Jack adds electric energy to panto

Dick Whittington at Haverhill Arts Centre

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Dick Whittington at Haverhill Arts Centre. This is a glamourous, sparkling show with an electric energy. The children in the audience responded with absolute glee right from the start. Aaron Blackburn’s Idle Jack is jet-propelled and super powered.  

This is a fast-paced panto with a touch of class. He trained at the London College of Music.

Dick Whittington sublime duo

Dick Whittington sublime duo – Haverhill

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The principals in the show, include some celebrated television actors. Coronation Street’s Scott Wright plays a powerful King Rat.

You wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark sewer. Samantha Dodd channels Barbara Windsor as Fairy Bowbells and David Learner (Knightmare and Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) is a distinguished Alderman Fitzwarren.

You can tell when people are classically trained.

Sinead Mathias Medeiros

Michael Heslop 3

Michael Heslop

Katy Cocks 1

Katy Cocks

 

All the performances are polished, the direction is slick, the singing is lovely, and it’s laughs all the way through for both grown-ups and youngsters.

Michael Heslop, astonishingly aged only 19, plays the Dame, Sarah the Cook with panache and aplomb.

His dresses by Dan Smith are sublime. In fact, all the costumes are something special. The second act opens with the cast in glittering, midnight blue sailor outfits trimmed with red. Gorgeous! They look like they are dressed by Dior.

I loved the way they all slid to one side of the stage at once to evoke the movement of the ship. Lovely choreography by Jessica Clifford.

Dick Whittington at Haverhill Arts Centre - Sarah the Cook

Dick Whittington at Haverhill Arts Centre – Sarah the Cook

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Dick Whittington at Haverhill Arts Centre – Samantha Dodds

Dick Whittington at Haverhill Arts Centre – Samantha Dodds

This Dick Whittington is of course from Haverhill. Writer and director Dan Schumann, the artistic director of Haverhill Arts Centre, has embraced the local connection.

Sinead Mathius-Medeiros as a characterful Whittington and Alice Fitzwarren is played with authority by Katy Cocks, both have strong singing voices.

Their duet in the second half of the show is a real musical highlight.

Dick Whittington at Haverhill Arts Centre – Scott Wright

Dick Whittington at Haverhill Arts Centre – Scott Wright

There are some nice innovations in this traditional show. The ghost scene has The Gruffalo, which had the children in the audience yelling with delight.

In place of the usual messy, slip slidey slapstick, the principals have a singing routine involving all of them at once moving their arms high and wide and bobbing up and down which demands precision timing for no one to sock anyone else in the face. Very clever.

Dick Whittington at Haverhill Arts Centre – David Learner

Dick Whittington at Haverhill Arts Centre – David Learner

I must also mention Tommy the Cat, though curiously the programme doesn’t. It doesn’t say who plays the fearless feline, but I saw a well observed performance of mime and humour.

With an engaging team of ensemble dancers, alongside juveniles from the Lisa Mason School of Dance (team whiskers and team paws) this is a feel-good show.

Not to be missed.

Dick Whittington at Haverhill Arts Centre runs until Christmas Eve with performances on various days at 11am, 1pm, 2.30pm and 4.30pm. Tickets £18, concessions £16. There is a discount for a family ticket.

See: haverhillartscentre.co.uk or call 01440 714140.

 

 

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