TAMWORTH Pantomime Company bring a performance to the town every year, and this year it is the tale of Dick Whittington. We went along to see how good it was – oh yes we did!
The performance is full of family-friendly puns, but it oozes innuendos for the grown-ups, in the traditional thigh-slapping pantomime way. The comedy lines, some of which are very cheesy and ‘eye-rollingly’ silly were delivered excellently by the cast to guarantee the giggles of the audience.
Anyone local who is watching will spot lots of references to local areas and attractions – Tamworth Informed even got a mention!
The interaction between cast and audience remained strong throughout. The audience were encouraged to participate and this is something everyone seemed to love – especially the children in the audience who really got into the pantomime spirit. There was even the opportunity for some of the younger audience members to climb on stage and take part.
Heckles flew each way throughout the performance with the quick-witted performers giving as good as they got, especially Terry Batham who takes on the role of the evil King Rat (BOOOOOO!).
The performance is very well produced, especially when you think they are in what is actually a school hall. Tamworth Pantomime Company, which is made up entirely of volunteers has extended the stage and given the space some of its magical touches, which make it just right.
The space in QEMS is big enough to make you feel like you are at a ‘real’ theatre, but small enough that you are close to the action and really feel part of the performance. The lighting and sound were great and in no way did it feel amateur.
Overall the cast is a young one, but every single one of them clearly put their heart and soul into the performance – they are unquestionably all very talented.
One of the stand-out singers, we feel, was 15-year-old Cara Britton who took on the role of Juliet. She has an incredible singing voice and we were shocked at seeing her age in the programme. Her acting was also very strong; her facial expressions and presence on stage were amazing – she has talent beyond her years and is clearly one to watch.
Also, starring is a host of local stars, including BBC WM presenter and former ITV newsreader Llewela Bailey as the Spirit of the Bells.
The starring role of Dick, yes Dick, is performed by Sam Beech who first appeared in a Tamworth pantomime in 2001, aged 5 when he played a ‘ratling’ in Dick Whittington! Sam performed the role really well and had an excellent presence on the stage. He has a strong singing voice and seemed a natural star of the stage.
Dick’s side-kick and friend throughout the performance is Cat, who is, well, a cat! In the performance we watched, this was performed by the very talented Elisha Raymond, although in some performances this will be a role taken on by Tamworth Castle’s Olivia Shepherd.
The role of Alice Fitzwarren, the lover of Dick (oo err) is performed by Bethany Wright. Bethany returned for her second pantomime after taking on the role of Cinderella last year. She shows great confidence on the stage and has an amazing voice.
Of course, the real leading lady of any pantomime is the Dame – in this case, Dame Daphne Dumpling, a role performed excellently by Alex Farrell. This is Alex’s 12th pantomime in Tamworth and is a true natural. Throughout the performance, he delivers his lines excellently, including some great ad-hoc lines. The wardrobe department has clearly worked very hard on the outfit changes for Dame Daphne Dumpling – she wears some extremely comical costumes.
Throughout the performance, there were some excellently timed comedy interjections from Callum Wallace and Kate Richardson who play the ‘Trivia Twins’ and compliment each other incredibly well.
We must also mention Laura Brown who took on two roles, as Lizzie Fitzwarren and Sultan Vinegar; Jack Johnson who took on the roles of the Fishmonger, the Gorilla and Chris Packet; Christian Sharp who took on the role of Captain Barnacles and Thomas Priestley who played Idle Jack.
Younger audience members will also recognise two of the guest performers, as Marshall from Paw Patrol and a Minion make an appearance.
Overall, we thoroughly recommend this performance, the acting is fabulous and the singing voices are impressive.
Dick Whittington runs until 23 December at QEMS Theatre on Ashby Road, Tamworth.
Before the performance and during the interval, there is the opportunity to purchase very reasonably priced refreshments and flashing lights which seemed very popular. The available refreshments on the day we attended cost between 50p to £1.00 for drinks and sweets and popcorn ranged from £1.50 to £2.00.