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Dick Whittington at Hampton Hill Theatre | Review

Dick Whittington at Hampton Hill Theatre
Dick Whittington at Hampton Hill Theatre

Given past successes, expectations were high for Teddington Theatre Club’s pantomime for 2018, and the director, Bill Compton, and writer, Daniel Wain, do not disappoint.

This very traditional Dick Whittington gives its largely very young audience exactly what they want and, exactly as it should, leaves them wanting more. Wisely, Wain has not tinkered too much with the story and the jokes in his script are for the most part very familiar but his original verse, especially the couplets for Danielle Thompson’s Fairy Bowbells, is extremely witty albeit the cleverness of the rhymes is occasionally lost in the delivery. Regrettably, the double entendres are on the crude lines of Jim Davidson’s “oeuvre” rather than the gentler ones of the Carry On films, and slights on other local amateur companies come across poorly. Fortunately, this less effective material fell almost entirely on deaf ears at the opening performance.

By contrast, there are some very good original jokes, especially about South Western Railways and Brexit, and Compton’s lively production also has some outstanding moments – an “underwater” rendition of the viral song Baby Shark gets the younger audience members to their feet and – with some hilariously redrafted lines – The Diva’s Lament from Spamalot is sung with perfect comic timing by Mia Skytte as the Sultana. As Dick Whittington and Alice Fitzwarren, Rebecca Dowbiggin and Kelly-Marie Tuthill sing well while Jim Trimmer, playing Alice’s father, seems suitably lost most of the time. Asha Gill is an enchanting Tommy the Cat, expertly choreographed, enduringly adorable and, when the need arises, incredibly ferocious; and the very experienced pantomime player Edz Barrett is a fantastic King Rat, goading children with demoniacal leers and whipping them into a frenzy of boos and hisses. King Rat’s counterpoint, the loveable Idle Jack, is played by Lara Parker who – like Barrett – lifts matters to a different level when she is on stage and, at the show’s conclusion, leads the audience in a rousing, competitive singalong with another pantomime stalwart, Dave Dadswell, who plays – well – almost all of the characters in this panto, and even some from another one. There is also an unexpected and slightly bizarre cameo (well, perhaps not that unexpected if one has read the programme) and Emma Knight deserves praise for her sensitively choreographed and hard-working chorus, as too does the excellent sound and lighting team and James Hall’s small but effective offstage orchestra, distinctly more musical than is sometimes the case in amateur shows.

The design for Dick Whittington is strong, with clever use of simple projections, and many, many “absolutely fabulous” costumes, especially the collection worn by Sarah the Cook, played with knowing innuendo by Marc Batten; special praise for Alison Barker and Margaret Williams who must have been sewing well into the small hours for this production.

This is an enjoyable Christmas show for all the family and, while it has all but sold out, a few tickets may still be available for some performances.

4 stars

Review by Louis Mazzini

Will Dick find fame and fortune in old London Town? Can Tommy rid Morocco of those wicked rats? Will it all end happily? You know the answers, but you’ll still adore the experience. Forget 2018 – it’s behind you! The whole family will love our traditional thigh-slapping, cross-dressing, no-messing tale, told with a topical, tropical twist…

Cast:
Dick Whittington – Rebecca Dowbiggin
Alice Fitzwarren – Kelly-Marie Tuthill
Sarah the Cook (most performances) – Marc Batten
Sarah the Cook (Sunday matinee, Thurs) – Daniel Wain
Idle Jack – Lara Parker
King Rat – Edz Barrett
Fairy BowBells – Danielle Thompson
Alderman Fitzwarren – Jim Trimmer
Tommy the Cat – Asha Gill
Sultana of Morocco – Mia Skytte Jensen
Town Crier, Dandini, Robber, Captain Tide-End, First Mate Cummings, King Neptune, Sultan of Morocco – Dave Dadswell
Ensemble: Stephanie Beecroft, Leigh Dent, Nicky Shaw, Anna Strain, Sian Walters

Production Team & Crew:
Director – Bill Compton
Musical Director – James Hall
Choreographer – Emma Knight
Production Manager – Lottie Walker
Stage Manager – Kathryn Smith
Deputy Stage Manager – Meaghan Baxter
ASM – Vicky Horder
ASM – Inara Stamp
ASM – Joe Evans
Wardrobe – Alison Barker
Wardrobe – Margaret Williams
Sound – David Gates
Sound – Dickson Cossar
Lighting – Patrick Troughton
Lighting -Gary Stevenson
Props – Jack Tidball
Production Photographer – Jojo Leppink
Additional Photography – Joe Stockwell

Dick Whittington
By Daniel Wain
Panto’s coming home. Oh yes it is! A fun-filled feast for all the family
Sat 8 Dec 2018 to Sat 15 Dec 2018
Hampton Hill Theatre: Main Auditorium
90 High Street, Hampton Hill, Hampton, TW12 1NZ
http://www.teddingtontheatreclub.org.uk/

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