Dick Whittington and His Cat is Norwich Theatre Royal’s panto for this season and what a fantastic show!
Quick-style summary, so keep up: Penniless Dick comes to London to find his fortune, Beau Bells magic-up a talking cat, Tommy, as his friend. Queen Rodentia puts a spell on all the town rats to help her steal a treasure map. Dick saves Alice Fitzwarren from a giant rat and Alice gets him a job in her father’s (Alderman Fitzwarren) shop. Alice and Dick fall in love but he’s thrown out the door as Rodentia set him up. Alderman’s twin brother has been missing, assumed dead, for the last twenty years. Sarah & her son Jack work for Alderman. Rodentia cons the Fitzwarren’s to get on her pirate ship as she goes to search for the treasure. Dick & Tommy stowaway on the ship. There is a storm and the ship sinks into the sea. The family are helped to the island by a huge sea monster. They find the treasure and more. There is a happy ending.
A big story with each character having their own interweaving story line – and all easy to follow and each one delightfully entertaining with different levels of humour. Alice is the most sensible, and she needs to be as the heroine, Tommy the Cat, Sarah the Cook and Idle Jack are the most amusing and Queen Rodentia has a great baddie storyline as she rounds up the rats.
The whole cast are brilliant, all of them. Perfect casting for the characters they are playing. Joe Tracini as Tommy the Cat is energetic and charismatic, Joe Pollard as Idle Jack is the perfect fool and has funny bones, a mix of Frank Spencer, Norman Wisdom and Joe Pasquale, Richard Gauntlett as Sarah the Cook is a superb panto dame with elements of Mrs Slocombe coming through, Siân Reeves as the baddie Queen Rodentia is wonderfully bad. The ensemble are superb too.
- Graham Cole OBE – Alderman Fitzwarren/Captain Seadog
- Richard Gauntlett – Sarah the Cook
- Shakeel Kimotho – Beau Bells
- Joe Pollard – Idle Jack
- Siân Reeves – Queen Rodentia
- Jarnéia Richard-Noel – Alice Fitzwarren
- Gyasi Sheppy – Dick Whittington
- Joe Tracini – Tommy the Cat
The set is lavish, creative and amazing. There is London town, inside the shop, a moving pirate ship, a giant sea monster, the rat sewer, the treasure island, a shipwreck under the sea… Beau Bells flies through the air, characters pop up and down through trap doors in the stage floor, a disco ball for Tommy’s dance ‘piece’, to be honest there are so many treats for the eyes I don’t have the word space to tell you everything that is goes on – although I do need to mention the scene on the stormy seas where Sarah and Jack attempt to have dinner!
Costumes are bright, colourful and imaginative. The giant rats are so good they are creepy and with the squeals through the sound system when they skitter on stage gives you the shivers.
The live music and songs are fantastic, clear voices so you can hear the words which are essential for full entertainment. Jarnéia Richard-Noel as Alice Fitzwarren steals the show with her rendition of ‘Never Love Again’.
The interaction with the audience is throughout, whether it’s the booooooing, or the ‘oh no it isn’t’ or the songs we have to learn and join in, or just the laughing and clapping at what’s happening on stage.
It’s a clean panto, although full of funny jokes and banter it was old fashioned clean fun and entertainment for the whole show. Take the whole family and you will have a wonderful evening.
This has got to be one to the most professionally produced panto’s in our region and it would not be out of place if it were on Broadway – honestly, it was superb in every single way.
The panto is running at Norwich Theatre Royal until 9th January 2022