Dick's a hit with infectious laughs
POPSTAR Robbie Williams remarked in jest that if the new album didn't sell it would be Strictly Come Dancing followed by panto.
Panto? Might he and his old mate Wilkes actually appear together on the stage of The Regent, possibly in a knockabout turn as the Ugly Sisters?
Alas, there's no such double act this year, for the album has sold, and the Williams family is instead represented by Robbie's dad (rumours that his dentist and a second cousin are inside a pantomime horse are entirely unfounded).
This is Jonathan Wilkes' fifth Regent panto in a row, and neither he nor his public are giving any indication that the novelty might be wearing off.
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And who can blame them?
Dick Whittington is a show that gets better and better as it goes along, a brilliantly orchestrated spectacle that combines silliness and charm with impressive sets and spirited performances.
Maybe the breezy parochialism is a bit laboured this time, with Old Stokey replacing London town, but the show looks good, it is superbly choreographed and ticks all the right boxes when it comes to audience response.
The American star Sheila Ferguson, formerly of The Three Degrees, is a vision in purple and sparkling silver as Fairy Oatcakes. She brings wit and style to the role, and her rendition of When Will I See You again is probably the musical highpoint of the show.
That's if you discount The Good Ship Lollipop, performed by Christian Patterson's Sarah the Cook, as a near spherical Shirley Temple with ringlets and sailor suit.
As the dame, Patterson steals the show with not only the most outrageously hilarious costumes, but the funniest gags too.
Pete Conway, father of Robbie, performs like the genial old trouper he is as Alderman Fitzwarren, and Amy Diamond looks sweet and wholesome as his daughter Alice.
As the boo-hiss figure of the King Rat, Steven Serlin is a cross between a Dickens villain and an East End mobster, and Abbey Hulton teenagers Aaron and Andrew Corden are amazing as his athletic henchmen.
Stoke's Top Talent winner Su Annagib is a glamorous and commanding Sultana, and Kayleigh McIntyre performs miracles as Tommy the Cat.
At the centre of it all is Jonathan Wilkes, whose slightly gormless, slightly lecherous Dick Whittington is a hit with native Potters, who once again seem perfectly happy to have the celebrity's best friend.