ryan and slack

Panto legends: Andrew Ryan as Felicity Fitzwarren and Matt Slack as Dick Whittington . . . this time. Pictures: Paul Coltas

Dick Whittington

Birmingham Hippodrome


It’s been a while since I’ve been to a pantomime – to be precise about 30 years.

Thus, I was interested to see whether Birmingham Hippodrome’s production of Dick Whittington lived up to the hallowed days of the Christopher Biggins hey-day. I was also intrigued to see whether today's youngsters enjoyed Panto as much as my generation did. 

In terms of wow factor, this production really packs a punch. The set and lighting are knockout and the costumes are nothing short of sensational – with Andrew Ryan’s Dame attire as Felicity Fitzwarren almost worthy of their own review.

Like any good panto there’s a lot of camaraderie in the cast and not a lot of plot but the show barrels along with plenty of gusto – captained by Panto legend Matt Slack, the aforementioned Dick, who is now in his ninth consecutive year of panto at Birmingham Hippodrome and his 22nd panto in total.


Marti Pellow as no more Mr Nice Guy chief baddie, The Ratman

I had heard many exclamations from my kids and their chums over the years about the legend that is Matt Slack and I can see why they love him so much. He’s got panto in his DNA – playing the audience like a fiddle and has a great physicality and joy to his performances.

In addition, there is plenty of innuendo to keep the adults entertained and give the impression to the slightly older kids that they’ve found a Narnia style door to another world dominated by rude gags they shouldn’t be hearing. (Younger kids probably haven’t a clue what the rude bits are all about). Not all of it hits the mark but it’s so plentiful and rapid fire that wait long enough, something that does tickle your fancy will come along in no time.

The performances are great with Marti Pellow relishing his role as chief baddie – The Ratman and Suzanne Shaw being the love interest, Alice. Both gave very good vocal and acting performances with Get well Soon’s Dr Ranj amping up the star power with a very good turn as The Spirit of the Bells. 


Doreen Tipton sporting a fine voice as the Cat

Being panto though, it was great to see some pantomime players at the top of their game. As well as Matt Slack, there was the superb Andrew Ryan as Felicity Fitzwarren and my personal favourite, Queen of the Black Country, Doreen Tipton, as Doreen the cat. Her sarcastic but witty turn provided a little bit of shade amongst an awful lot of fun-loving light and she also had a fabulous singing voice.  

Overall this is a production for everyone and a great night out for all the family – our party alone spanned three generations and eight decades and all of us came away saying what a great panto it was. I can’t imagine how much work goes into a production like this but I can tell you, it’s worth it.

With a deservedly long run until January 29th and prices starting from £16.50 it’s also really nice to see that among the many performances there are also options for audio described, captioned, BSL interpreted, Schools and relaxed performances – giving people the chance to experience this fantastic show how it best suits them. You can buy your tickets here

If you can see it then I’d heartily recommend it – I certainly won’t be waiting 30 years until I see my next Panto – Matt Slack is back next year in Jack and the beanstalk!

Theo Clarke


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