What an enjoyable evening. I had a smile on my face the whole way through and that’s a very good sign.
Panto should always be fun and Dick Whittington & His Cat by Willingdon Church Players certainly was with a talented cast telling this well-loved story in great style.
As in all good traditional pantos, we started with the personifications of good and evil as portrayed in splendid manner by Natasha Cornell, as Fairy Bow Bells, and Kim Dack as Queen Rat.
There was plenty of cheering and booing from a well trained audience whenever they appeared!
Dick Whittington was played with vivacity by Alison King and Lucy Sarsfield gave a lovely performance as Alice Fitzwarren, both giving much enjoyment with their singing.
Luke Martin was an ideal Idle Jack, always full of fun and Paul Martin, as usual, an excellent Dame, looking wonderful in his fantastic costumes as Sarah the Cook.
Dick’s companion, Tommy the Cat, was played by Deanna Cornell – a really beautiful cat who communicated with the humans in a delightful way.
Alan Benstead was just right as Alderman Fitzwarren as was Jeremy Rowett as The Sultan of Morocco and Christopher Peck was a rollicking Captain Cuttle, using his powerful singing voice togreat effect. (I’ve forgiven you for getting me up on stage Chris!).
Queen Rat’s Rat Lieutenants, Gnawbone and Gnashfang, were played with relish by Janet Martin and Emily Falkner – they certainly looked terrifying.
There was lots of good work from Senior and Junior Choruses and it was lovely to see the youngsters on stage – get them young and they may well want to stay with theatre for the rest of their lives.
The ensemble at the end of Act 1 was most impressive, with Musical Director and Accompanist Fr. Michael Maine and Percussionist Jonathan Cornell accompanying in great style.
No Willingdon Panto would be complete without an item from the lovely backstage gentlemen and also, of course, a dance from Rowena Brady and Babs Owen who gave a wonderful belly dance, complete with zimmer frames.
Scenery, costumes and makeup were great and congratulations to all involved in this production, especially Director Christopher Peck for his work in bringing this lovely seasonal entertainment to Willingdon.