Do you love Dick?
Their joke, not mine! Double entendres aplenty and snake hips all the way for Curtis 'Love Island' Pritchard's first foray into panto. Enter stage left, the Muddy verdict.
Well, it worked on Strictly, so why not at the panto? Curtis Pritchard, brother of AJ, was booked as the celeb of Wycombe Swan’s velvetine knickerbocker production Dick Whittington on the back of his summer appearance in Love Island. Like young social media stars Saffron Barker and Jo Sugg on Strictly, Curtis has brought a ready smile and an army of young fans (his IG following is 1.6m – not too shabby!). Never mind that he has never acted or sung professionally in his entire life, Curtis has already done his job – the theatre was packed on the day I visited.
So what to expect? Well it’s a slick show this year, great sets and costumes, a live orchestra and a general feeling that money hasn’t been scrimped on the production. Curtis’s undoubted inexperience and middling vocals are given some scaffolding by some old pros, primarily Adam Booth (a regular side-kick for Keith Lemon on his shows) whose winning idiocy as Idle Jack brought the biggest laughs of the day, and Thomas Howes (Mason in Downton Abbey no less) as the Dame. The set piece humour worked the best – a tongue twister section that was truly funny, the traditional panto skit of making up a story by showing the supermarket brand names.
King Rat made a good fist of being the baddy despite being tied to rhyming couplets most of the time (I’m never a fan of that, it always feels so constraining) and Leah Godbold as The Spirit of Bow Bells had some impressive pipes – singing to her is clearly effortless – which had the unfortunate effect of knocking Milkshake’s Kiera-Nicole Brennan’s vocals into second spot.
It’s a no brainer to say that Curtis was at his best when dancing and there were ample opportunities to show his snake hips (though as Oliver Twist would say, please sir, can I have some more?).
So should you go? My kids, aged 10 and 12, both gave the show 8 out of 10 (caveat: my 10 year old has only ever given three things full marks and two of those were five star hotels, so the bar is pretty high!). They really enjoyed it and because they did, so did I. Overlook Curtis’ limited acting chops and enjoy the spectacle, and you’ll think it’s money well spent.
Dick Whittington, Wycombe Swan, until 5 Jan 2020. Book tickets