Combine David Shields’ stunning, cartoon-like set, a rambunctious dame and classic panto slapstick and you have a recipe for five-star Christmas success. The Mercury Theatre’s 2016 pantomime, Dick Whittington, was a well-executed production with a stellar cast. The hilarious Anthony Stuart-Hicks returns for his second year in the annual panto, this time as Sarah the Cook – whose heels get higher and costumes more outrageous with each scene, alongside kid’s favourite Dale Superville, as Idle Jack, who together adlibbed and corpsed their way to ardent applause.
Director and co-writer Daniel Buckroyd ensures every element of a great British panto is thrown in, from transcendent villain Ratty King, played by Mercury-favourite Ignatius Anthony, to a clean-cut lead in Glenn Adamson as Whittington, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy. Careful not to break character, Adamson and Grace Eccle, who plays wide-eyed Alice Fitzwarren – Dick’s love interest, both deliver polished vocals, while the energetic junior chorus appear to have as much fun as the audience, succeeding in raising a smile on the faces of even the most discerning of critics.
Set between rat-infested London and the golden shores of Morocco, scene shifts become ever more impressive, with a particularly striking underwater scene lit in ultra violet. An infectious score, arranged by Richard Reeday, brings the whole show together, with well-known songs reworked for the story, and toe-tapping melodies. Choreographer Charlie Morgan’s routines are energetic and expressive, particularly for Thomasina the cat, played by Gracie Lai, whose speechless role relies on flawless movement. Throw in Trump gags, witty banter and a heart-warming happy ending and Colchester promises to have the fairest pantomime in all the land.
Dick Whittington plays at the Mercury Theatre until 8th January 2017. Visit www.mercurytheatre.co.uk to buy tickets.
Images: Pamela Raith Photography