Dick Whittington & his Cat

Date 24th February 2015
Society Ponteland Repertory Society
Venue The Memorial Hall, Ponteland
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Carole Davies, Stephen Stokoe, Johnny Woollett
Musical Director Stephen Stokoe
Choreographer Helen Wilson

Report

Author: Michael L. Avery

It is always difficult writing a Report based on the first night of a show which can sometimes (not always) give the impression of watching “a work in progress”.  There were a few moments in this show which gave that impression but, all in all, this was an amusing, colourful and engaging production.

The pantomime was written by Stephen Stokoe who was also Musical Director and Dame.  The Dame, Petunia Pickle, despite his/her exotic costumes, was quite glamourous on occasion!  Fortunately a pencil moustache avoided any real confusion.  Some of the jokes and set pieces were a little “familiar” but that did not detract from the enjoyment of the totally adult audience who gloried in being called “boys and girls” every now and then.

The show tells the familiar tale of Dick Whittington and his Cat on their way to London, then onwards to Morocco.  Dick, played by Alex Easten, looks like a reliable chap, and who eventually wins the hand of Alice Fitzwarren, played by Lucy Walton.  They shared a very pleasant duet together.  Sabrina Jackman played Dick’s cat, Tom, who found a mate, played by Lucy Cardno, in the form of Ginger the Cat.  The cats have a nice little dance/movement number to themselves, enhanced by the piano playing of Jonny Winter.

The villain is King Rat, alias Johnny Woollett (one of the directors) playing a very smooth and villainous who, assisted by his young henchmen/ladies, wreaks havoc wherever he goes - until the two cats sort them out in Morocco.  The dancers presented a variety of styles from tap to belly-dancing via a little ballet.  Their arm-ography in the more exotic scenes was clever and worked well, but my favourite was the clack of their tap shoes in an early number, dressed as pearly queens.  I love the sound of tap dancing.

Martin Hampton Matthews was Jack Pickle, Petunia’s son.  Along with Stephen he carried a lot of the comedy and engaged well with the audience.  There were just sufficient “it’s behind you” and “oh, yes he is” moments and the adult audience played along manfully, if a liitle quietly. I think, perhaps, we were all intimidated by King Rat!

The scenery was mainly curtains/cloths, indicating the changing scenes clearly.  The small band of just three players enhanced the show well, without being intrusive.  My old ears could have done with a little help on some of the musical numbers.  A little more volume or some electronic enhancement might have helped.  That aside, this proved to be a most entertaining evening.