There’s a real London Theatreland feel about this year’s pantomime at Bristol Hippodrome. That isn’t surprising given the set was used in a previous production at the iconic London Palladium.
From the moment the curtain goes up, it’s clear that this is a mega-panto.
Spectacular lighting kicks off the show as Queen Rat, played superbly by CBeebies favourite Jennie Dale, rises from below the stage with her troupe of creepy rodents.
“If you think I’m big, meet our leader,” she screams as a massive animatronic rat creeps onto the stage. The West End has definitely arrived in the West Country!
Television star Shane Richie as Dick Whittington
Playing the lead role is TV actor Shane Richie. Like Brian Conley in Cinderella last year, the Eastenders and Benidorm actor is a great showman who knows how to entertain an audience. He’s a real crowd-pleaser and provides plenty of belly laughs.
Unsurprisingly given Dick Whittington’s first name, there’s plenty of innuendos to keep the grown-ups laughing. In Richie’s opening performance, he gets the ladies in the crowd to recite ‘We love Dick’ before selecting one woman to stand up and shout it out on her own.
It’s all in good fun and totally what you expect from a panto but I felt it went on a little bit too long.
Pantomime classics a-plenty
There are lots of other panto classics too, more so than last year, with several chances to shout ‘she’s behind you’ and loads of boos and hisses for Jennie Dale’s brilliantly sinister Queen Rat.
There’s also a very entertaining version of the ‘she sells seashells’ tongue twister performed by Richie, David O’Reilly, in the panto dame role as Sarah the Cook and Peter Piper as Captain Cockles.
It really made me laugh as did a sequence with Richie and Piper miming to the opening of various classic songs to annoy O’Reilly.
I did feel the Sarah the Cook role wasn’t used as much as it could have been but I guess with a personality as big as Richie’s the best one-liners are reserved for him.
The supporting cast is strong with acrobats The Acromaniacs putting in a fantastic gymnastic display.
The special effects really are awesome and as well as the animatronic rat, there’s another impressive moment featuring Shane Richie but we won’t spoil that one!
Overall, this is a good panto with plenty for the whole family to enjoy.
Dick Whittington is at Bristol Hippodrome until 5 January.
— Nina🇫🇷 & Dan🇬🇧 in #Bristol (@LStyleDistrict) December 11, 2019
Images by Dave Betts Photography