Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Emilie Moon Claire Haddleton
Theatre Correspondents
1:00 AM 28th November 2023

From The Lips Of Children - Dick Whittington At Harrogate

The cast
Photo: Karl Andre
The cast Photo: Karl Andre
Back by popular demand, our budding journalists from Brackenfield School visited Dick Whittington at Harrogate Theatre for their annual pantomime trip. This is what they thought...

Max and Charlotte from Brackenfield School, Harrogate, ready to enjoy Dick Whittington.
Max and Charlotte from Brackenfield School, Harrogate, ready to enjoy Dick Whittington.
We were accompanied to this thoroughly entertaining performance of Dick Whittington by over 100 school children from Brackenfield School. OH YES, WE WERE!

It was their opening show, and Harrogate Pantomime did not disappoint. Year after year, they produce spectacular pantomimes that draw crowds to the theatre. We are sure that this season will be no different.

The small cast was exceptionally strong this year—the acting, dancing, comic timing, and vocals were all practically faultless.

What the children said:
Teddy aged 6: “The pantomime was funny. I loved the rats!”
Mason aged 7:“My favourite person was a funny man and he was scared of the tap-dancing jelly”
Luna aged 7: “My favpurite character was the mermaid who lived in a shiny big shell”
Harry aged 6: “They made really funny puppets and they put them in the sea”
Josephine aged 7: “I loved the cat called Tammy because she was fluffy”
Theo aged 6: “The mermaid was the best because the mermaid singing was so good”
Elliott aged 6: “I knew one song that was called Dance Monkey and I sang along with it”
The scenes in the story were linked together cleverly by Fairy Bow-Bells (Shannon Rewcroft), who had the most magical fairy dress and wand, according to a 6-year-old sitting near me.

Naail Ishaq as Dick Whittington and Faye Weerasinghe as Alice ably took on the main characters in the popular fairy tale. Their romantic duet was particularly beautifully sung, and they enthusiastically threw themselves into every scene.

Naail Ishaq & Anna Campkin
Photo: Karl Andre
Naail Ishaq & Anna Campkin Photo: Karl Andre
The flamboyant dame, Dick’s mother, is played by the clearly talented Harry Wyatt (who had every colour of Doc Martin boots going!). Her quick costume changes were impressive! Anna Campkin plays Tammy the cat (who cannot talk, shhhhh!).

She gracefully moves about the stage, with lots of the young audience commenting on how they wanted to be able to dance and act just like Tammy. The booing and hissing got louder and louder every time the baddie King Rat appeared on the stage.

What the teachers said:
Mrs Haddleton: “Every year Naail Ishaq’s (Dick) comic timing is impeccable and his ad-libbing is brilliant”
Mrs Balsamini: “There was a great balance between music, dance and comedy”
Mrs Ingle Illes: “King Rat was terrifying yet loveable”
Miss Van Eede: “Tammy the cat’s singing was breathtaking”
Michael Lambourne has a huge stage presence, with the crowd going crazy as he belted out Meatloaf’s alternative version of Rat Out of Hell. The audience certainly loved to hate him! The four young girls playing the supporting roles are to be commended for the part they played; their dancing was particularly good.  

And finally, Harrogate Panto would not be the same without the highly hilarious Tim Stedman, who this year took on the role of Idle Jack. The connection he has with his audience is incredible, getting them to shout along to his crazy chants and making them laugh lots at his multitude of facial expressions!

Tim Stedman
Photo: Karl Andre
Tim Stedman Photo: Karl Andre
The show had all the usual panto elements; it was full of audience participation and definitely no time to fall asleep. Poor “Mr. Olesqui” on the front row was picked on right from the start and, if nothing else, reminded us all to position ourselves further back next year! He was a very good sport, putting up with the Dame flirting with him, being the brunt of many jokes, and finally having to conduct the whole of the audience during the sing-off. There were familiar songs to sing-a-long to, modern references to things like Tik-Tok, which certainly pleased the school-aged children, and some terribly witty jokes throughout. Timely jokes about Harrogate and innuendos galore had the older members of the audience chuckling to themselves.

The scenery was inspired. Who knew that rats could pop in and out of tins in a pretend shop? A special mention must go to the underwater scene, which was puppetry at its best and prompted lots of ...

Mrs. Moon, HOW did they do that?

It was extremely cleverly done and added another dimension to the usual pantomime scenes.

The slapstick scene that contained The 12 Days of Shopping was another favourite for the children, especially as Idle Jack got covered in cream pies and his mother fired water into the screaming audience.

The costumes were flamboyant, colourful, and very fitting for this festive show.

A very big thumbs up for all those involved in Harrogate pantomime this year—do go and see it if you can!

Harry Wyatt (The Dame)
Photo: Karl Andre
Harry Wyatt (The Dame) Photo: Karl Andre

For more information on Brackenfield School click here