Dick Whittington, Theatre Royal review: 'An absolute gift of a show' 

Graham Cole as Alderman Fitzwarren in the Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime Dick Whittington and his Cat.

Graham Cole as Alderman Fitzwarren in the Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime Dick Whittington and his Cat. - Credit: Richard Jarmy Photography

As festive as turkey and tinsel, it is a sure sign Christmas is on its way when the annual panto pitches up in front of city theatre-goers.

The coronavirus pandemic meant none of us had a traditional Christmas last year but despite the threat of a new variant the show did go on - and boy was it fun!

Jarnéia Richard-Noel, Joe Tracini and Gyasi Sheppy in Dick Whittington and his Cat. 

Jarnéia Richard-Noel as Alice Fitzwarren, Joe Tracini as Tommy the Cat and Gyasi Sheppy as the title role in Dick Whittington and his Cat. - Credit: Laura Francis

Dick Whittington and his Cat have found their way to Norwich Theatre Royal just in time for some seasonal shenanigans.

The rags to riches tale of a young man leaving home with a spotted hanky and a cat is well known to many, but was given a yuletide reboot for theatre fans.

Jarnéia Richard-Noel as Alice Fitzwarren in Dick Whittingon and his Cat. 

Jarnéia Richard-Noel as Alice Fitzwarren in Dick Whittingon and his Cat. - Credit: Richard Jarmy Photography

CBeebies presenter Gyasi Sheppy (Dick Whittington) led the cast which included Jarneia Richard-Noel (Alice Fitzwarren) and Sian Reeves (Queen Rodentia). 

Graham Cole, who was once famed for being PC Tony Stamp in long running ITV police show The Bill, stole some of the limelight as Alderman Fitzwarren/Captain Seadog.

Joe Pollard as Idle Jack and Richard Gauntlett as Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington and his Cat. 

Joe Pollard as Idle Jack and Richard Gauntlett as Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington and his Cat. - Credit: Laura Francis

And three proved to be the magic number as far as comedy was concerned.

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Richard Gauntlett (Sarah the Cook) who wrote and co-directed the show, was back for his 21st Theatre Royal panto and, as ever, the veteran was in fine form.

Shakeel Kimotho as Beau Bells in Dick Whittington and his Cat. 

Shakeel Kimotho as Beau Bells in Dick Whittington and his Cat. - Credit: Richard Jarmy Photography

Flanked by Joe Pollard (Idle Jack) and Joe Tracini (Tommy the cat) Gauntlett and his merry men were the comic heartbeat of this feel-good family fun.

The trio provided a plethora of laugh-out loud moments and helped remind us all just how much we have missed being part of a live theatre audience.

Joe Tracini as Tommy the Cat in Dick Whittington and his Cat. 

Joe Tracini as Tommy the Cat in Dick Whittington and his Cat. - Credit: Laura Francis

Those of us watching were given the chance to play our part in the show by joining in with the singing, dancing or just shouting out.

As well as the laughter there were some sensational songs, sumptuous sets and dazzling dances.

This year’s production has been dedicated to the memory of David Carter, former panto musical director and arranger, who died last year.

Sian Reeves as Queen Rat in Dick Whittington and his Cat. 

Sian Reeves as Queen Rat in Dick Whittington and his Cat. - Credit: Richard Jarmy Photography

And those on stage, backstage - indeed everyone involved, did him proud.

It is an absolute gift of a show which deserves to be unwrapped this festive season by families everywhere.

Dick Whittington and his Cat runs until January 9 2022.

To book tickets visit norwichtheatre.org or call 01603 630000.