Dick Whittington The Stage – January 2008 By John Thaxter

This traditional pantomime, a three-hander brilliantly scripted by producer-director Simon Gross, is a refreshing antidote to those overblown pantos packed with television faces.

His touring show, the real thing in miniature, brings Christmas entertainment to nursing homes and day centres, here visiting the famous children’s hospital Great Ormond Street Hospital) where its trio of performers soon turned a gathering of young patients, parents and nursing staff, into a lively and responsive audience.

Their resources are modest, no scenery, just a trunk full of costumes, plus a backing track of pre-recorded show tunes. But the scenes are set by the actors so convincingly I could have sworn I saw the ship’s deck tilting in the storm.

It would be hard to over-praise the three young women who make this possible. Liz Brown as Dick is the first true principal boy I have seen for years, with perfect legs to match and a winning way with a song.

Slender Carly Spicer plays both the Good Fairy and Alice Fitzwarren. But she also brings complete conviction to her Tommy the Cat in a black body-suit and the Sultana of Morocco with a smoochy exotic dance.

As with big-scale shows the star is the Dame, played with terrific panto repartee by versatile Claudette Spreadbury, who also doubles as Queen Rat, and whose veteran performance belies her youth.