Dick Whittington & His Cat

Date 30th December 2021
Society Cranbrook Operatic & Dramatic Society (CODS)
Venue Queen's Hall Theatre
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Linda Russell
Musical Director Annie Hatcher
Choreographer Margaret Jones
Written By Peter Denyer - NODA Scripts

Report

Author: Anne Lawson

The resident four-piece band members played a jolly intro including the well-known Test Match Special theme, and the housekeeping announcement clearly informed the audience that this production required ‘all hands to the pumps’ to cover all departments, so very well done in getting the show on during these still peculiar times.

To set the scene we commenced by travelling to the City of London where Dick, his knapsack and his trusty agile meowing cat Tommy, are to seek their fortune. A lively first scene introduces the company - dame Sarah well known for her bangers, the Alderman Fitzwarren, his charming daughter Alice, bubbly comedic Idle Jack, and Captain Cuttle of the The Good Ship Lollipop. Of course, there is a good fairy who comes in the form of Fairy Bow Bells, a magical debut for Rebecca Evans, to foretell Dick will become Lord Mayor of London and the evil steam punk Queen Rat, sidekicks Gnawbone and Gnashfang together with little ratlings to be well and truly beaten. And, of course, our hero Dick and young Alice will live happily ever after.

Dick is however falsely accused of stealing Fitzwarren’s bag of gold. Our adventure continues through the Alderman’s kitchen with Sarah the cook prepping a special recipe of slapstick sausages, we ‘Smile’ with Bow Bells and ‘Go West’ from the Port of London and get a rough voyage, drunken sailors, sea shanties, deck swabbing blues and rock into Neptuna’s underwater kingdom. We ‘Walk like a Sultana’ in the Sultan’s Palace, get lost in the Jungle and fall to the depths of a dungeon. All return magically to London to the Guildhall where the cast sings ‘We Go Together.’

Under the directorship of Linda, the junior cast members became townsfolk, sailors in their striped tops, flitting illuminated fairies, little rats with wonderful tails and florescent fishes and appeared to enjoy the experience too. The seniors too multi tasked and were townsfolks, sailors, rats, and Moroccan Guards with dancing set by Queen Neptuna herself namely experienced  Margaret Jones. Understudy Sharon Pickles did a sterling job taking on the role of the Sultana as Julie Aitkin was unfortunately poorly.

Flora Wynn-Carter played Dick with much confidence duetting with Sarah Hutchings playing a winsome Alice. Matthew Sims joined the company as her somewhat strict but loving father. Michaela Adam with her giant rat tail became a formidable sword drawing Queen Rat attended by her two cheeky assistants Poppy Wood and Evelyn Kite. Peter Ashby with a West Country accent as Captain Cuttle kept his mates shipshape whilst Margaret Jones led her little fishes ‘Under the Sea.’ Max Chesters with great energy kept the audience joining in, encouraged children to come on stage and helped launch with Dame Sarah sweeties into the auditorium, to much laughter.

Another multitasker was stalwart Annie Hatcher designing the four colourful static flats and backdrops, keeping the musical numbers rehearsed and acting as SM too!! Good teamwork provided the technical crew for sound/effects, including James Harper lights, and John Farrell looking after the sixteen personal mics! The efforts of a host of CODS members enabled this after Christmas sunshine during what has been an unprecedented time for us all.