Dick Whittington and his Cat

Date 16th January 2016
Society Woodchurch Players
Venue Woodchurch Memorial Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Emma Priest


Author: Anne Lawson

~~This excellent production commences with King Rat, villain of the piece, wanting to become Lord Mayor of London but mild Green Fairy Liquid foretells DW is destined for this role. He duly arrives from Gloucester, with his loyal cat (renamed Tom) to seek fame and fortune. Storekeeper Alderman Fitzwarren takes him on as apprentice and immediately Dick falls for his daughter Alice, already beloved by his other assistant, discontented as his name suggests - Idle Jack. To disgrace Dick, King Rat persuades IJ to commit a crime for which Dick is to take the blame. Foiled, KR and his Ratlings try another tack, to drown the Fitzwarrens and friends on board good ship Armadillo! With extra bubbles from Fairy Liquid, Dick and Tom save the day after being washed ashore in Morocco, taken to the Sultan’s Palace and eventually returning to London. Adding comedy was Dame Sarah Suet - cook to Fitzwarren, plus Captain Goodness and sidekick Midshipman Gracious – great balls of fire, plus their disguised wives.
Fine team preparation of scenery and props with London areas constructed and painted in true Tudor style, interior of Fitzwarren’s Store perfect as was the Armadillo deck, with ship’s panelled sides swiftly placed front of stage using the central steps as the gangplank. Romantic Moroccan seashore, Sultan’s Palace and finally the Great Hall, again truly pleasing to the eye. All manoeuvred efficiently by the backstage crew.
Wardrobe was excellent, colourful with professional finish.  Children clad in pretty, well fitted dresses and caps, Ratlings in black with long tails were expertly made-up by Jenny McGuckin. Dick neatly costumed in suede jerkin, tights and long boots. His cat wore a ‘purrfect’ suit with splendid feline face painting. Dame Suet looked just wonderful with great comedic touches like the ‘Carman Miranda’ look catching the eye. Her makeup was a piece of art and those flashing lashes! Her sailor’s suit, with hooped bottoms, plus captain’s hat were a masterpiece. Wigs worn were good quality. The two comedy characters, as lady wives and disguised sailors also being differing heights, worked very well.  The gorilla suit was horribly realistic, with King Rat appearing in black and flashing his cloak, evil make up and top hat quite menacing.  Now what can one say about ‘with hands that do dishes etc…… brilliant, the all green, ginger beer swilling, burping fairy queen from Essex! What a star and the descent of the bubbles on entry - magic. Ann Tiplady & Lynn McGuckin did a grand job.
Synchronised Lighting and Sound throughout with good choices of music, amusing noises off, effective disco and colour lighting, good levels - great work from young Tim Nolan and Rocket Wady not forgetting Richard Carley.
So many involved in this high quality production I cannot mention everyone. With Emma Priest at the helm the use of space was imaginative, particularly front of stage areas and aisle for the quayside, everyone so neatly positioned. The eleven principals characterised their part with something special. James Perkins as Alderman Fitzwarren, a bumbler, slightly forgetful using a stooped stance, Melody Lily Rose was the young, pretty doey-eyed daughter, with Daisy Fermor, an athletic crowd encourager using open eyed expressions as Idle Jack.  Experienced Richard Fair gave a most accomplished Dame performance, with large assets. Kim Parmee, although new to a principal role presented a cheeky thigh slapping Dick, kept in order by Ella, her faithful cat. With the ‘Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire’ theme, lisping Captain aka Bryan Deverall and Midshipman played by Barry Thomas had great rapport, with disguised wives Val Smith (also provided additional material) and Linda Holmes, amusingly complimenting each other. Ben Vincer, King Rat, encouraged booing with an evil cackle, whilst Dawn O’Bryan, laid back Fairy Liquid stole the show. Smaller parts were well cast and ably supported by the ensemble.