Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Rats! What are Julie and Quasi doing in our panto?

EVERYONE knows the story of Dick Whittington, but a new version written by Henley musician Mike Hurst features unusual appareances

EVERYONE knows the story of Dick Whittington, but a new version written by Henley musician Mike Hurst features unusual appareances — in the form of a Hollywood superstar singer and the Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

The pantomime is this year’s show by the Henley Children’s Theatre Group.

Director Muffin Hurst said: “This is a strange story, given that the cat can talk, but one with which everyone is familiar — streets paved with gold, youngsters seeking their fortune, love to be found and a happy ending.

“Perhaps what is more unusual is the strange appearance of Julie Andrews and Quasimodo in this epic — a typical touch of madness from our regular script author, Mike Hurst — as well as a crazy running gag.”

In this latest version of Dick Whittington all the characters do battle with the villainous King Ratman and his army of little rats.

After Whittington’s arrival in London, he is quickly dismissed from the household and forced to leave England on the Saucy Seagull, ably abetted by an itinerant bunch of loopy sailors. They are shipwrecked on the island of Bonga Wonga, where Dick does battle with Ratman.

The cast ranges in age from three to 16. They all live locally and attend local schools.

Muffin said: “Due to the large number of children involved there are two separate casts that appear in four each of the eight performances.

“Sometimes this encourages a little competition between the two groups, and they really pull out all the stops to do their best.

“They are all excited to be performing once again. The pantomimes are a must-see Christmas tradition for the masses in Henley.”

Muffin has been directing pantomimes at the Kenton Theatre for 25 years, following in the footsteps of her grandmother, Flavia Pickworth who established the group.

Last year they staged Jack And The Beanstalk. This year, Dick Whittington is played by Molly Clarke and Jemima Pilgrim-Morris, Ratman is played by Nicole Johnson and Olivia Dunning, Alice (Dick’s sweetheart) is played by Megan Firth and Anouska Hawkes. Julie Andrews is played by Amber Weller and Rosie Henman and Puss is played by Isobel Benster and Eleanor Waldren.

Muffin added: “The Henley Children’s Theatre Group really know what they’re doing! There is a good, steady stream of toe-tapping songs to add icing to the cake that definitely put a smile on faces of all ages.”

*Dick Whittington is at the Kenton Theatre from Monday, December 30 to Sunday, January 5. Tickets are adults £11, concessions £8. Call (01491) 575698 or visit www.kentontheatre.co.uk

For further information, visit www.henleychildrens theatre.co.uk

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