Review - Dick Wittington

The Loddon Players ? Dick Whittington, Loddon Church Hall - 19th January 2012

Directors: Jackie Bingham & Anthony Bunting; Producer: Steve Burton; Choreography: (Funky Feet) Vicky Codling; Musical Director: Alan Cant

A great opening from the Funky Feet Dancers who provided excellent routines throughout to complement this traditional style and very local panto.
They were joined by Puss the cat (Stanley Doughty) who showed good feline style and movement.

The full house, mostly of three different WI groups were hard to please but were warmed up by the ebullient Town Cryer (Ian Taylor) who managed to get some responses to his ?Oyez?s!? which proved a good running gag.

Our Dame, a great favourite with the locals, Anthony Bunting as Jasmine Junkett, regailed her audience with topical repartee and received much applause on entry for his/her lovely lugubrious Norfolk accent and extravagant colourful costumes, a new one for every entrance, plus great wigs, makeup and hats. Clearly a ?local? celebrity!

Dick Whittington?s introduction was rather brief as we met him, his cat, and his whole family as they all (yes all!) plan a move to London (?.strange script) this was followed by a rather under rehearsed and somewhat overlong slapstick scene which needed more pace and more ?messy? stuff!
Nice comedic support from Pansy Pennywhistle (Maureen Larkin) and her rather dim son Big Ben (Matthew Moore) who showed good timing and several well considered ? ?Some Mothers Do ?Ave ?Em? ? moments.

We would have liked to see more action from Dick and his Cat at this stage as the original story seemed to get lost a bit leaving poor old Dick Whittington (Jackie Bingham) not a lot of opportunity to develop his role; and no thigh slaps! And no scullduggery from the rats?

The opening of Act 2 followed with a rather long medley of London cockney songs and a moving rendition of ?Streets of London? sung by Graham Orpit with guitar against a simple projection of a London skyline ? a nice effective touch.

Having all settled in at the house of Alderman Fitzwarren (Richard Wharton) who played a stoic father figure to Alice (Lucy Brown),she in turn provided a glamorous love match for Dick Whittington who in this story was never accused of any wrongdoing.. but none the less provided good principal boy style and emotion as he decides to leave London fearing there is no chance of finding love with Alice ? cue Fairy Bowbelles (Caroline Bown) who gave a lively performance as she entreated Dick Whittington to return to London as the Bow Bells ring out and the audience is persuaded to assist?. ?Ding Dong!...?
of course he does return and gets the chance to send his cat on Ald Fitz?s ship to the East, where his fortune is made.

Some well choreographed dance numbers for Puss and King Rat (Elizabeth Chapman) and the Young Ratlings especially the super battle scene with Puss as he rids the casts from Alderman Fitzwarren?s ship.
Not much chance to Boo the baddie King Rat before this but I hope the matinee audiences proved me wrong!

Good supporting cameo?s from chorus members. ,br />An excellent ships Captain (Chris Lovick) who led us in another nautical songsheet (better props needed for this i.e. a louder supporting musical instruments).

Of course Dick Whittington, or rather Puss, makes his fortune and he gets to marry the lovely Alice.
Alderman Fitzwarren gets to discover the delights of his secretary Miss Floppit (Shula Howard) who worked hard to make us laugh.
Even Big Ben discovers girls in the shape of Mitzi (Alice Bush), not forgetting Puss who returned with a new found family ? Mrs Moggie plus their kittens!
And they all lived hopefully happily????..aah!

The scenery was simple but effective with good lighting effects ? all in all another village style panto well supported by the community and looked forward to by cast and mostly full house audiences (13 shows in all) good to see so many young people getting involved.

Well done and just keep an eye on that script. Some stories have a ?must have? content.