Dick Whittington

Date 23rd November 2022
Society South Manchester AOS
Venue Z Arts
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Richard Ross
Musical Director Tom Guest
Choreographer Beth Abram
Written By Kevin Proctor


Author: Liz Hume-Dawson

South Manchester AOS pantomime Dick Whittington involves a lot of fun with added sweets thrown at the audience, water pistols (yes, I got wet), campness, ad libs, human-size rats running around the audience, the usual boos at the baddie, wrapped up with a festive feel as you leave. Kevin Proctor has written this with up-to-date references and innuendos that you cannot keep up with. The sets are the streets of London, Aldi-Manns (the Shop), a dream sequence, a ships deck, underwater scene, shores and a palace of Morocco.

Costumes looked good and the Dame’s as always hilarious - even dressed up as tin of sardines. Clever using the umbrella for the jellyfish. Loved finale costumes - the pink and orange together were beautiful. Costumes by South Manchester AOS and Molly Limpets. Lighting enhanced the scene. There was a technical issue with the sound in the Twelve Days of Christmas - nevertheless it was the most hilarious thing I have ever seen. They had to sing it without sound and improvise with the stage manager actually bringing on a piano halfway through so the Musical Director Tom Guest, also cast in the show, could play. The chaos that ensued was priceless, it was brilliant and they looked exhausted -  they ended to rapturous applause from the audience - keep that in! It’s live theatre and I will remember that for a long time (in a good way). Lighting Design Chris Osborn, Sound Ross Hardman and John Ormerod and the Stage Manager was Caroline Marriott.

The Director Richard Ross must have had so much fun with the script and I didn’t think there was a weak character in the show - great casting. All strong performers and giving their all. The slow- motion shipwreck looked great.  Beth Abram excelled with the choreography. Loved the medley with Bon Voyage/Good Ship Lollipop/In the Navy routine and the tap.

The friendly Fairy there to help was Gemma Sales playing Fairy Bow Bells and her once friend turned enemy who wanted to be Lord Mayor was played by Laura Aremia. If you didn’t boo she certainly reminded you - she was strong, powerful and sarcastic. I would not want to meet her on a dark night. Funny moment when she said it was too high for her mid song. Her army of rats Abbie Venables, Quina Chapman, Kallum Edwards, Christina Pearson and Marijana Sevo were everywhere and moved at pace coming through the audience and looking very funky. The Ensemble also looked good and worked well with the supporting the cast.

Alderman (‘Aldi-Mann’?) Fitzwarren was played by Tom Guest whom I also mentioned was the Musical Director - his air of authority not fooling anyone. Killer line “You’re not pregnant and you’re getting married? How very Didsbury!”

Joey Jangles was played by Tom Farnworth - just about one of the campest outfits I have seen. His air of presumed innocence worked a treat and he never gave up acting even when in the background. Idle Jack with his cheeky charm will do anything to get out of work was played by Ryan Footitt, milking the audience for sympathy. Sultana Of Morocco was played by Rebekah Davies who gave her all and gave us sass in Confident routine with killer dance moves, giving Demi Lovato a run for her money. Work it girl! Alice Fitzwarren played by Olivia O’Connor was a more down to earth Principal Girl with edge, making her much more relatable and working well with Kieron Hatton playing the upstanding Dick Whittington, who was the butt of all the jokes (I am still recovering from the sack joke, for which Alice rode the heightened audience laughter expertly). I’ve seen lots of Dicks (to coin a phrase) and I have to say Tom Cat played by Alex Re is my favourite - camp, sneering, sarcastic with glitter shorts - what’s not to like - he would have fitted in well with Ru Paul’s Pit Crew. The Writer Kevin Proctor plays Sarah Souffle the palace cook, ‘best buns in the business.’ Great rapport with the audience and never misses a trick which is just as it should be with a dame. Giving the audience time to land the gag is an art. Styling out the Kittyscottclaus look and the sarcasm - but can she tap? Kevin can!

Well, all I can say is South Manchester AOS Cast, Crew and Committee must be absolutely delighted with this show and the audience response. Thank you for a great evening on which I needed to draw breath from. Thank you from my guest Matthew and I for your hospitality too. A group of Rats is called a ‘mischief’ and this Panto had plenty of that.