Dick Whittington at the Wolverhampton Grand

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Image by Tim Thursfield – Express & Star

Writer & Director: Ian Adams

Co-Director: Adrian Jackson

In its 125th Anniversary Year, the Wolverhampton Grand produces its final pantomime with Qdos Entertainment. This year’s production brings a smile to the cheeks of particularly the older members of the family, as the story of Dick Whittington meets Hi-Di-Hi.

Starring as Queen Rat is Su Pollard. With a bubbly personality and an all round larger than life character, it’s a surprise to see Pollard take on the role of a Villian. Her evil cackle echoes around the audience as she appears from the depths of the sewers while she also brings a bit of her charm to the role and not making this Queen Rat too evil. It’s clear that Writer and Director Ian Adams works with the personality he has and has crafted a character around that as the plot centres more around Queen Rat’s downfall after not gaining the title of Mayor of London and how she wants to get her revenge.

Su Pollard’s transformation at the end is a sparkle of fairy dust that will delight the kids while also entertaining older members of the audience as she goes back into a rather famous outfit. It’s a nice nod to the careers of both Pollard and fellow cast member Jeffrey Holland, who is a very charming Alderman Fitzwarren.

Director and now resident Grand dame Ian Adams ensures this panto remains true to the original origins of the genre. It was great to see the return of many panto traditions including egg throwing and Adams further embraces this with this sassy, saucy and sometimes a bit naughty Sally the Cook.

Julie Paton returns to the Wolverhampton Grand panto again this year as ‘goodie’ Fairy Bow Bells. Paton dazzles in her dress and shares a lovely version of One Moment in Time which is complete with some spectacular lighting design by Tom Johnson.

The star of this panto, however, has to be Aaron James as Idle Jack. James hasn’t had panto experience on this scale before, but he leaps on to the Grand’s stage with ease and is great as Idle Jack who’s a cocky, charming and an all-round lovable character. He’s also a great bridge for pulling together the humour for all the audience. For some, certain jokes are marmite comedy, but there is something that kids and adults alike can smile at and enjoy.

As many people have come to expect from Qdos, there’s a glittery and glitzy set which features a spectacular larger than life Rat. It’s an awesome special effect that makes the younger members of the audience that are close to the front, gasp in shock as it lunges forward. It is somewhat a shame, that this effect’s prominence is lost in act two as its relevance to this story wasn’t picked up on. It does disjoint the plot, which means the production doesn’t flow as easily as it could have.

However, with a super talented ensemble cast, this traditional British pantomime features a cast that audience members old and young will recognise. You can cheer, boo, hiss and clap along to your heart’s content with this pantomime that’s packed full with some picture postcard humour.

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5money*A complimentary ticket was given in exchange for this review. This value for money rating is based on the ticket price value of £31.50 + £3 Booking Fee. For more info on this value for money rating please visit here: Introducing a new kind of rating

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