Review of the Show
Photos Link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/6BZuvuico318o4DD9
The director, Ann Ramm, worked on fifteen am-dram pantomimes between 1973 and 2005 before folding up her pantomime director’s chair, but ten years later, she’s back in the driver’s seat – and doing a great job. To complete the directing team were Lee Redwood as musical director and Lucy Kelleher as choreographer. The musical numbers were a full spectrum from Frozen to S-Club 7 to Old MacDonald sung by some quite unimpressed boys from the audience who were obviously ‘too cool’ for panto.
The legend of Dick Whittington follows the classic basis of a fairy tale, with the poor boy making good through some heroic or magic deed. By rewarding others he achieves a kingdom, a princess and untold wealth or, in the case of Whittington, he becomes fabulously rich and is made Lord Major of London three times. Emma Hardy, playing Dick, is a brilliant performer showing a lot of talent for a fourteen-year-old, singing, dancing and playing guitar. Playing alongside Emma is Amelia Shipton as Alice Fitzwarren, and I was glad to see their love affair was appropriately performed, not being too cheesy. Amelia has a bright expression and stands out from the beginning as a principal role.
There has to be a ‘baddy’ and in this show it is Martin Pitman, playing King Rat, who is very well costumed and has a brilliant evil manner. ‘I am evil, aren’t I?’ was what he told us and I can definitely say he was. Lee Redwood, playing Idle Jack, is the source of the energy for the performance, really getting the audience going and thus getting the most laughs. Alan Whitty makes his dame debut as Sarah the Cook and bounces well off Lee, but I thought he could have had a lot more fun than he did. He has some golden lines from a very clever script and could maybe have a more explosive sneeze: ‘Don’t be snotty, Sarah!’ I also wish that Tommy the Cat could have talked because Daisy Crowton, playing the part, although having a great meow, also surprised us with a lovely singing voice in the closing of the second half. The adult, junior and children’s chorus were well-rehearsed, especially the very much younger members with their polished performance of ‘The candy man can’.
The performance had its ups and downs but the family feel of the ensemble held it all together. Of course there were some technical problems, but lines were an overriding issue, with numerous ad-libs and outbreaks of laughter. My favourite ad-libber was Debra Crowton, playing Fairy Bowbell, who was quite a forgetful fairy, to say the least, but still lovely.
The show runs till this Sunday, with matinées on the last two days. No-one can say they don’t like to cheer for the good and boo for the bad, so go on and join the family atmosphere of Dick Whittington for some good ‘olde worlde’ fun.
Patrick Marsden – SceneOne