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“DICK WHITTINGTONand his Magical Cat

One of my favourite productions of the year, and one I always go home from feeling good.  The enthusiasm of the youngsters involved, the production team and the crew is a never-ending source of pleasure to me, and to the audience I’m sure.

The scenery was good, very suitable to the feel of the pantomime, and allowing the cast to move freely around the stage.  The book flat for the kitchen although slightly comic book in style, had all the elements of a country kitchen.

The lighting was, as always, very imaginative, I particularly like the plot for the Hula Dance, and the storm was impressive.  Well done once again to David Pryor, Dick Gadsden and their crew.  Gordon Smith drew on former members of Stage 1 for his crew, and they accomplished the scene changes well.  

The opening number was good, full of lovely smiley faces, and the first street scene was very lively, plenty of bustle and purpose to what the cast were doing.

Diana Baxter, with her trio, Jonny Mills on second keyboard and Tom Garside on drums, again created a good backing to the performers, who appeared to be well-drilled musically.  I particularly liked the harmonies achieved.

Costumes are always good – and this was no exception, they always look fresh and colourful. The props team had again pulled out all the stops to ensure props matched the rest of the production.  I loved the rats that disappeared from the maids serving dishes, and the large mechanical rat was great fun.

It was nice to see some new faces, and the fact that there were a lot of under 10’s was encouraging and they all did very well.  One word of caution to all, please remember to keep your character whenever on stage, and also to face front as much as possible, particularly when singing duets.

Amy Farrar as Dick Whittington stepped up this year from one half of the camel in last year’s production, performing with an assurance that belied her years, and showing a confident singing voice, that suited the songs she sang.  

Courtney Boyce was Tommy the Cat, which was a nice part, well played.

The two fairies, Kirsty Davison and Rosie Thompson were good narrators of parts of the story, both did really well.

I really enjoyed Alice Hayden’s performance as idle Jack – she has a lovely face, which is always alive and you really feel that she is the part.  Alice uses her eyes and connects with the audience.

I thought Kurt Price and Chloe Harkin as the Pearly King and Queen were confident, strong and projected well, leading the cast in a spirited musical number.  Very well done to them both.

Emily Harber, Ellie Wilkinson, Melissa Jackson, Bethany Newport and Stephanie Grayson all created nice characters within the street scene, with Amy Parry as the news vendor and Max Southall as the Muffin Man giving us more lively characters.

Kieran Newport was a very imposing Alderman Fitzwarren, he is a good little actor, and kept his character going all the time.  I like what Kieran does, he gives a certain gravitas to his part, whilst never losing sight of any comedy moments to be had.

Jade Toyer as Lady Fitzwarren was elegant and reacted well to her ‘husband’ and her charming daughter Alice, who was played by Amy Walker was lovely, if a little timid to start with.  I understand this was her first part, and she accomplished it well, interacting with Dick, giving the two characters some lovely moments.  

Ciara Shadlow gave us a rather solemn but quite imposing Eliza the Cook, who was very hard on her poor kitchen maids, played very nicely by Katie Bland and Talya Agasee, who coped really well as they were covering for the third maid who was unable to appear due to illness.

King Rat was played very well by Diarmaid Sam, with Amelia Gravener and Morgan Wiltshire as his ratty cohorts.  They were very cheery although evil-intentioned rats, which was an amusing difference, but we still enjoyed booing them!

Ciaran Barragry was a good Captain Surf, commanding his motley crew, and I was particularly impressed by Benjamin Asagee as Jim Wave, and Nathaniel Edwards as Mr Mussel, they both created good characters and spoke out with confidence and clarity – very well done boys.

Kurt Price was also very clear and concise as Mr Spray, I look forward to seeing more of Kurt in the future.

Libby Wilding’s Seaman Stan was a very feisty seaman, with her ‘Am I bovvered’ routine, very funny.  Elly Wilkinson, Stephanie Grayson and Connie Wiltshire were also very upright seamen, who delivered their lines well.

On the island of Hoola Hoola we had Max Southall as the Sultan, with Lauren Hollingsworth and the Sultana and Maya Robinson as their daughter, all of whom gave good performances, with Maya taking the honours for her musical number, which she sang very well.

I hope I have mentioned everyone – please forgive me if I haven’t.

It is a fantastic feat to get so many young people performing to such a good standard, and is a tribute to the hard work of all concerned.  A fun evening, with some good performances, and an event that never ceases to make me feel good.  This is what amateur theatre is all about, encouraging young people to be involved and improve their performance skills year after year.  A good all-round grounding in theatre, and a joy for the audience.

Stage 1

DICK WHITTINGTONand his Magical Cat

review date: 1st Feb 2013

Stopsley High School

Written & Produced by Terry Mills

MD: Diana Baxter    Choreographer: Pat Seal

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