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FeaturedNorth East & YorkshirePantomimeReview

Dick Whittington: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto – City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds

Reviewer: Sara Jackson

Writer: Peter Rowe

Director: Rob Salmon

City Varieties Music Hall’s pantomime is off with a bang… literally. From the traditional pyrotechnic-filled first fairy entrance to the party finish, this high energy rock and roll pantomime will stick in the memories of festive theatre goers for many years to come.

For audiences of Rob Salmon and Peter Rowe’s unique approach to pantomimes, high standards of quadruple threat performers have come to be expected, and this year’s offer certainly does not disappoint. Performers can all be seen playing multiple musical instruments, dancing, singing, and creating fantastical characters seemingly effortlessly, most never going off stage for more than a few moments at a time. It’s tremendous to see such talent being utilised to its best as Salmon expertly makes the most of his resources.

Simon Nock makes his return as Sarah the Cook. He pitches his performance perfectly, catering to adults and children alike as he makes the most of every “Dick” joke possible and clowns his way through the narrative with the experience of a seasoned professional Dame.

Rhiannon Hopkins as Tabby the Cat steals the hearts of the children. A feisty feline with ninja-like abilities and a  faithful sidekick to Dick Whittington played by Ben Mabberley.

But the real leading man of the piece is the comical Billy Bungalow, played with heart and silliness abounding by Daniel Miles. This performer is certainly one to keep your eye out for in future performances. His immaculate comic timing, stunning vocals and physical clowning ability is all showcased perfectly in this role, as his misled actions lead to hilarious consequences.

The music for the performance is all performed live onstage and features classic rock numbers like Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero. The music is so good that children can’t help but dance in the aisles, and by the curtain down, the whole audience was on its feet clapping, dancing, and singing along.

This venue has thought about everything. The programme this year is online and accessible to all, reducing the waste and cost of the production. Goodie bags (containing snacks and interval activities) and flashing toys are available for children, and performers come front of house before the performance to encourage the use of them whenever King Rat, played by Ben Stratton, is on stage.

This is a highly recommended festive treat for all family, get tickets and, while you still can. You certainly won’t regret it.

Runs until 8th January 2023.

The Reviews Hub Score

Fun, festive and bawdy

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The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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