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07 December 2012

Dick Whittington and his Cat is intoxicating festive fun at Hackney Empire

SUSIE McKenna’s ‘Dick Whittington and his Cat’ has young and old shouting, dancing and singing in an evening of intoxicating entertainment.

Joanna Riding, who played the wicked stepmother in last year’s panto ‘Cinderella’, returns to the Empire in male guise as the legendary Dick, seeking fame, fortune and adventure on the glittering streets of London-town.

Lonely in the Big Smoke, Dick is made to feel at home in Hackney however with his acrobatic cat (Stephen Emery) and the lazy but loveable Idle Jack (Darren Hart).

Jack helps his hopeful friend find a job with Alderman Fitzwarren (Tony Whittle) a gentleman of legendary business acumen, who can 'sell stuff from all over the world, even Bethnal Green'.

From then on it’s a swashbuckling adventure as they embark on a journey from London to the depths of the sea.

If Riding makes a radiant hero, then the celebrated comic Kat B is a lordly, terrifying King Rat, accompanied by a wonderfully talented troupe of rodents, local youngsters from X7eaven performing arts academy.

Nor does Steve Elias disappoint with his debut panto appearance at the Empire: he makes a formidable dame as Sarah the Cook, whose booming rendition of Adele’s ‘Skyfall’ is a stroke of comic genius.

The Empire does not hesitate in frequently teasing local residents. “Here’s me thinking Hackney was multi-lateral,” quips Sarah when we fail to reply to a speedy string of Welsh words.

And there are more glittering performances, too many to mention, including Bradley Cumberbatch as King Rat’s sidekick, the first member of the theatre’s Artistic Development Programme to play a principal role at the Empire.

By act two, we are out of our seats, singing-a-long and dancing with our paws in the air. If you want side-splitting fun this season then look no further than this for a show. It really is the 'cat’s whiskers' of pantomime.

For more information and to book tickets click here.

Dick Whittington and his Cat is on at Hackney Empire until 6 Jan

Dick Whittington and his Cat is on at Hackney Empire until 6 Jan

Dick Whittington and his Cat is on at Hackney Empire until 6 Jan

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