Panto: Dick Whittington – The Customs House 2012 Review

At Christmas time in the UK you have to go and see a Pantomime . . . Why? Well it’s Christmasy, lots of fun and it’s just something that we do. I have been going to see a Panto since I can remember. My favorite has always been at my local theatre The Customs House in South Shields.

The reason this has always been my favorite is because they combine a classic story with lots of local inside jokes and fitting in with the current trends and music. This year was no different all of those things were included in the show. “The little panto with the big heart” as it is well-known to be, this year though is Bob Stott’s farewell as Dame Dotty. Something very sad to think that Dotty and Tommy (Ray Spencer) have been in partnership for 37 years.

This made the show extra special in my eyes, seeing the duo perform together for the final time. I grew up watching them and have loved every second of it. Now at 25 I see how clever panto’s really all. The jokes can be dirty and go over the heads of the children but they have the more slapstick scenes to keep them entertained. Having Dick in the title for this show, I am sure you can imagine some of the jokes which then come out.

Keeping in touch with current trends, we get to see a onsie and a Geordie version of Gangnam style performed by the brilliant Ray Spencer as Tommy which brought plenty of laughs from young and old. Tommy is brother to Dick Whittington, who gets Tommy and his mother Dame Dotty a job down in London. But they must come together against King Rat. Played in a very fantastic bad guy camp fashion, plenty of booing and hissing from the start.

That’s the other brilliant thing about panto, the audience interaction and I mean from everyone. It’s really not just for the kids, booing, hissing, cheering, shouting hello are among some of the things you will be expected to do when attending a panto. It really is such good fun, but not as good as the “oh no you didn’t” “Oh yes we did” exchanges. In the part where everyone knows who is going to be taken next, but we all still shout and scream to try and stop them from being taken.

Many different musical numbers are in throughout the show, my favorite had to be Dame Dotty and The King of Sweden with their version of Little Mix Wings! It was just hilarious! Alice Stokoe and Steven Lee Hamilton vocally were brilliant singing some very well-known songs from the past year. Tommy and Dotty singing me and my shadow was very bitter-sweet, mainly because it was just heartwarming yet sad that this is the final time. Pleased that was included!

I always love the competition between the two sides of the audience. I was in Dotty’s side and believe it or not a man on Tommy’s team sad that we were better! First time that has ever happened in the history of panto’s!

So another brilliantly put together show with plenty of laughs and very talented individuals and to Dame Dotty . . . It won’t be the same without you!

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