It’s panto time!
10th December 2023
NNL writer Natalie Douglas and her children went to the opening night of Dick Whittington at King’s Lynn Corn Exchange on Friday and thought it was the cat’s whiskers!
Stepping into the warm embrace of the grand Corn Exchange, the foyer beckons with enchanting Dick Whittington-themed treasures, setting the tone for a magical evening.
As we settle into our seats and the orchestra strikes the first chord, the 750-capacity auditorium transforms into a spectacle of wonder, captivating both wide-eyed children and delighted adults, many adorned in festive attire, ready for a dose of Christmas magic. The imaginative set introduces us to a lively cast of characters, reimagining the classic rags-to-riches tale.
In this updated narrative, Dick (Laura Piggot) dreams of finding fame and fortune (and love) on London’s golden streets, but the city is plagued by rats led by the villainous King Rat (Andrew Piper), threatening to wreak havoc (cue the boos and hisses). While the storyline unfolds it plays second fiddle to the real star, which is the panto itself, introducing a myriad of eccentric characters within the first 20 minutes. Saucy panto dame Sarah the Cook (Alex Wadham) engages the audience with playful banter, Cockney Fairy Bowbells (Marissa Landy) charms with her saxophone skills and urban slang, and Idle Jack (Scott Cripps) steals the spotlight with his innuendos and dad jokes, as well as his infectious energy and ‘Hiya Jack’ catchphrase. We also meet Dick’s love interest, Alice (Lotti Brogan) and her Father Alderman Fitzwarren (Gavin Payne).
As Dick Whittington, the lad from Gloucester, joins the ensemble, the audience gets involved by naming his acrobatic cat (Daisy Fitzgerald), sparking a lively debate, settling on Whiskers. The journey across London, the seven seas, and Cromer kicks off with infectious energy.
With a cast of around 20, including eight main characters, the show maintains a strong family focus. From on-stage songs to characters interacting in the aisles, the engagement remains constant. The humour touches on topical issues like Brexit and the cost of living, along with plenty of classic innuendos and Christmas cracker-worthy jokes that resonate well. There are catchy pop covers throughout from Dua Lipa to Meat Loaf, and the cast is vocally strong, along with unexpected scenes from The Little Mermaid, SpongeBob, and Titanic, adding a delightful twist, with a belly-laugh favourite being the ghetto blaster scene.
Dick Whittington at the Corn Exchange delivered a memorable and delightful experience for our family. The perfect blend of traditional pantomime elements with modern twists and tunes truly made it a panto classic.
Dick Whittington continues at King’s Lynn Corn Exchange until 31 December, visit www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk for timings and to book.
There’s a signed performance on 21 December at 5.30pm, an audio description performance on 27 December at 5.30pm and a relaxed performance on 28 December at 5.30pm (these are bookable through the box office only, 01553 764864).