Dick Whittington – A classic tale with a Geordie twist

Dick Whittington poster
Dick Whittington poster

PSYCHEDELIC monsters, giant rats and Geordie jokes made for an eclectic mix at this year’s offering from Newcastle Pantomime Company.

Brendan Healy’s Dick Whittington at The Journal Tyne Theatre drew an audience of all ages at Friday’s opening night.

Featuring many familiar faces from last year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk, much loved Geordie duo Maxie and Mitch (Max Peters and Billy Mitchell) again delivered their own brand of comedy and local gags.

The classic tale tells the story of young Dick who travels to London to seek fame and fortune.

He is apprenticed to rich merchant Alderman Fitzwarren (Kevin O’Keefe) with whose daughter Alice (Samantha Phyllis Morris) he falls in love, leading to the wedding obligatory wedding at the end.

Dick wins his master’s approval after his cat Moggie (Emily Swan – also the show’s choreographer) chases away a rat infestation during a banquet organised by the Sultan of Morocco.

This rather fortunate pet ownership eventually leads to Dick being knighted and crowned Lord Mayor of London.

Catherine McCabe was a lovable Dick Whittington and excellent at engaging with the children in the audience.

However, my personal favourite was Jayne MacKenzie as the evil and calculating Queen Rat with ambitious plans to take over the world.

Cabaret singer MacKenzie showed the strength of her vocal talent, performing songs like Duffy’s ‘Mercy’ and ‘Independent Women’ by Destiny’s Child.

A cast of talented dancers helped pull together the plot, which at times dragged a little, especially towards the end of the (very long) first half.

The obligatory dame – Terry Joyce as Bessie the cook – had the audience in stitches as did the hapless Idle Jack (Charlie Richmond).

The ongoing practice of name-dropping the shows sponsors – Tyneside Autoparc, John Lewis, Eldon Square – was a little less endearing, however the impersonation of the man from the Go Compare advert – who I am pretty sure did not sponsor the show – was funny.

The evening ended with the company’s own version of 12 Days of Christmas – featuring the now legendary three-cupped bra.

Dick Whittington is at the Journal Tyne Theatre until January 2. Tickets, priced between £10 and £22 are available from the box office Monday to Friday 10am until 3.30pm and event days. Alternatively call ticketmaster on 0844 493 9999 or visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk

Petra Silfverskiold