THEATRE REVIEW - Dick Whittington

Ashley and Pudsey - stars of Dick Whittington
Ashley and Pudsey - stars of Dick Whittington

THE seeds of pantomime were sown in Italy in the 16th century. Thankfully it’s still going strong both in this country and, believe it or not, in Australia. Oh yes it is!

And that brings me nicely to Manchester’s biggest panto – good old Dick Whittington, featuring a whole host of stars ... with a dog the biggest star of all.

Britain’s Got Talent winners Ashley and her pooch Pudsey take centre stage in the Opera House show and are truly rewarded with the biggest ahhhhh in theatrical history.

The tail-waggingly memorable four-legged-friend and her young owner Ashleigh – not yet 20 – put a great new slant on into this festive fest.

The days of slapstick are now consigned to panto history, and whilst most of this show was traditional (and all the better for being so), there were a host of memorable moments.

Biggest thrill - a magical and memorable 3-D deep sea dive which fooled the younger members of audience into thinking the razor-tooth monsters were an inch from their noses.

Against a glittery set, the cast and chorus wove their magic festive spell, and one with fun, frolic and sheer value for money entertainment.

Eric Potts (Diggory from Coronation Street) wrote the show and played and played dame in a series of outrageous costumes. Top class. Top panto favourite Tam Ryan worked his socks off, holding the whole show together with fast-paced patter and interaction with the kids.

Children’s TV favourite Ben Faulks as Mr Whittington, and great-voiced Jodie Prenger as Fairy Bowbells added to the fun.

It’s no good mincing words – or crunching dog biscuits. Pudsey, the seven year old pooch, is the star of this extravagant and superbly entertaining show.

What a dog!

What a great theatrical Christmas cracker.

Dick Whittington is showing at the Manchester Opera House until Sunday, January 5.