Dick Whittington

Date 12th February 2022
Society Irchester Players
Venue Parsons Hall, Irchester
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Alex McKenzie
Musical Director Ashley Gray
Choreographer Chloe Ellson

Report

Author: Luke Campbell

The show

‘Dick Whittington’ plots the adventures of the future Mayor of London, Richard Whittington. As the story unfolds the principal boy – Dick – encounters all the traditional pantomime characters. Of course, there is also a love interest for Dick to pursue – Alice Fitzwarren.

I, like a very lively and appreciative audience, greatly enjoyed Irchester Players’ delightful interpretation of ‘Dick Whittington’. The script was packed with all the essential traditional pantomime traits: I especially enjoyed the topical jokes and references to local towns – ‘Ewww Rushden!!’.

Creatives

Alex McKenzie did a great job in directing the cast. There was a range of texture offered in the blocking, which I appreciated. However, the best scenes for me – by far – were the slapstick, physical comedy scenes. So good were these that even the cast found it impossible, at times, not to burst into laughter.

Musical direction by Ashley Gray was of a high standard. The small band, which provided the music throughout the evening, must also be congratulated on its very talented offering to the production. The vocal performances that stood out were delivered by Kara Cowles, Chloe Ellson, Emma Ellson, Chris Taylor, and Chris Thirlwell.

Choreography, provided by Chloe Ellson, was of a very good standard, varied, and well executed by all. The diversity of the numbers demonstrates Chloe’s knowledge across the discipline.

Cast

The cast of principals was a convincing one. All members worked very hard to develop clear characterisation that conformed to the demands of traditional pantomime characters. There are, however, some specific mentions I feel compelled to make.

First, Chloe Ellson’s characterisation of Dick was brilliant. She delivered the role with all the enthusiasm required.

Second, Chris Taylor did a terrific job as King Rat. I am pleased to see him grow as an actor to deliver versatility in his roles. Great rapport with the audience, brilliant characterisation, and excellent stage presence.

Third, Cara Woodage did an awesome job as one-half of the comedy duo. Her portrayal of Scupper was full of subtle and not so subtle comedic value. What I really appreciated about Cara’s performance was the vast amount of energy she carried whenever on stage and her commitment to characterisation.

Finally, Niamh Curson (Alice Fitzwarren) and Erin Mizon (Tom, the cat). Niamh – I am extremely interested in this young actor’s growth; she has real genuine ability in subtle acting expression and interpretation of emotion. I think Niamh will thrive in drama productions. Erin – hidden within is a talented vocalist and actor. I am looking forward to seeing her presented with opportunities that allow both talents to grow and shine.

I applaud the chorus on the contribution that each member made to the production. However, the chorus performance of the evening goes to Anthony Curson. His acting and vocal contributions lifted the ensemble greatly.

Last, but by no means least, I extend a massive well done to the junior chorus, who all performed with wide smiles, sass, and real effort. 

Production

The scenery was colourful. The props were well sourced and, also, of a good standard. The cast were well costumed in attire that added to the visual offering.

Sound was of a good standard and the lighting design was very effective for the production; I enjoyed the atmospheric lighting created for King Rat’s solo number.

Well done to the backstage crew. The very small team managed every scene transition with professional ease. I also extend my thanks to the chaperones without whom the pantomime stage would be missing the very important presence of Irchester Players Youth. 

The programme was of a professional standard. The poster that marketed the show was of an equally high standard.