Tuesday, April 23

Dick Whittington and the Pirates – Waterside Arts

On arrival, a buzz of excitement filled the air as the welcoming volunteers enthusiastically encouraged the young pirates in the audience to wear hats and eye patches. I was slightly concerned at this point that this panto was going to be aimed solely at the younger audience members, however, myself and my slightly cool teenage son, laughed, shouted “behind you” and found ourselves joining in with the actions to the pirate song!  With a cleverly written script by Terry Hollinshead (updated by Ross Douglas), there were cheeky innuendos and political jokes for the adults whilst plenty of slapstick kept the younger audience members chuckling. Truly something for everyone to enjoy. This joyous, colourful, rags to riches tale filled with pirates, mermaids, a hairy fairy, talking animals and even a unicorn, should be on prescription to counteract cold, bleak January!

Sale Nomads, contrary to their title, seemed completely at home at the delightful Waterside Arts theatre.  Bryan Shakeshaft’s beautiful bright set gave the feeling that this could be a professional show. Scene changes, on the whole, were managed swiftly (sometimes slightly noisily) however, this did not interfere with the storytelling. The creative use of the stage needs to be commended as characters appeared from beneath the stage to great effect. This was particularly effective in the dance to ‘Insomnia’; this was a highlight. Jeff Harpin’s lighting design alongside the powerful, technically strong dancers (Hannah Birch, Lauren Cowle, Millie Hardman, Emilia Harris, Izzy Stuart-Cole and Nichola Taylor) created a spectacular, atmospheric portrayal of a stormy ocean. Hollie Martin’s choreography was consistently of a high standard. Martin ensured the dancers showed off their versatility as they adeptly performed tap, modern and contemporary styles. The dancing in this show fitted perfectly and seemed an integral part of the story. The ‘Little Dancers’ (Elin Breen, Evie Ferster, Jemina Harris, Elin Hayward, Francesca Holmes, Francesca Reilly and Lyra Yates) were superb, their hornpipe dance to Portsmouth by Mike Oldfield was beautiful and heart-melting in equal measure. Karen Carr’s choreography allowed these young dancers to show off their skills. The glowing jellyfish dance to ‘Pure Imagination’ was particularly expressive.

Howard Anson was very strong in the role of Mr Drat, The Demon Rat. Anson had just the right measure of scare factor for this family show. Dastardly, scheming and ‘bad to the bone’ Anson sounded and looked the part, with excellent make-up (by Trish Lund, Judy Baker and Team) and a wonderful costume (Jenny Hollinshead and Team).

Megan Douglas was simply brilliant as Duck the Cat. Douglas ably captured the movements and mannerisms of a cat with faultless style and grace. Hannah Kitching as Alice Fitzwarren gave a confident performance with convincing acting and clever straight-faced delivery of some of the more daring innuendos. Captain P’rat was well cast with Joe Cramsie in the role. Cramsie had a wonderful voice, perfect for a pirate. Many of the laughs were for Stuart Sephton as the pantomime dame, Gertrude. Sephton interacted well with the audience and gave an assured performance entertaining both young and old alike. Jess Dyer in the leading role of Dick Whittington delivered lines clearly and faultlessly and was a believable hero.  With some great cameo parts played by the wider ensemble this pantomime really showed off the incredible acting skills, stage experience and overall talent of the entire cast.

Sale Nomads are clearly a talented team who have worked together to create a wonderful piece of stage magic!

Playing until 21st January 2024, check https://salenomads.org.uk/ for times and prices.

Reviewer: Emma Wild

Reviewed: 12th January 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.