Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Wellington

24/09/2014 - 27/09/2014

Production Details

Whitireia Musical Theatre to enthral you in the tale of Dick Whittington and his Cat 

Hear the bells of Wellington calling you to join us on a mighty adventure as Whitireia Musical Theatre enthrals you in the tale of Dick Whittington and his Cat, an up-beat pantomime sure to have you singing along!

Written by Roger Hall, Dick Whittington and his Cat follows the story of a strapping 19th century lad as he goes in search of success and fortune in our windy, wonderful home of Wellington. Dick runs into more than a few obstacles on his path, and beyond his path!  

Director and acting tutor, Alan Palmer is teaming up once again with Musical Director, Michael Nicholas Williams, after a successful season of Jane Eyre the Musical in 2013. 

Palmer has performed in numerous productions in London’s West End and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Williams is a renowned composer and Musical Director here in New Zealand and internationally. Michael has been the Musical Director for a vast amount of Wellington Musical Theatre shows including Cats, Hairspray, The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera and most recently Grease, as well as the upcoming production of Mamma Mia. The fabulous Leigh Evans is the choreographer for Dick Whittington. Leigh has trained in RAD Ballet and American Jazz, and is recognised as one of New Zealand’s foremost choreographers and Jazz tutors. 

Dick Whittington and his Cat is being performed as part of Whitireia Performance Centre’s musical theatre programme. This pantomime showcases the talented second year class performing in their roles, all of who will be graduating at the end of this year with a Diploma in Performing Arts (Singing).  These performers will be supported by first year musical theatre students.   

Treat yourself to a fun night out with your friends and family, share some giggles and have a sing along to Dick Whittington and his Cat! A chipper, feel good pantomime with laughs galore for both the kids and the adults! 

Season: Wed 24 to Sat 27 September, 7pm
Matinee: Sat 27 September at 2.30pm.  
Tickets cost $20 for an adult and $14 for concession.
Tickets available now through www.thetheatre.co.nz  

For the most part meet the challenge well

Review by Jo Hodgson 26th Sep 2014

Having seen last year’s 2nd year Diploma show, Jane Eyre the Musical, my expectations are high and I eagerly await ‘curtain up’ while thinking about the very different ingredients needed for the Panto recipe. 

Take one gullible but likeable young hero (girl dressed as boy), a Dame, the mother of the hero (played by a man), sneak in with the dastardly villain, introduce a young female ingénue with a side of comic duo and – in this case – a pantomime cat, rat and cow. 

Mix all this together with lively song and dance, audience participation, a liberal dose of silliness and spice with some risqué double entendre. Serve.

Ben Paterson characteristically bustles on to the stage as Mrs Whittington – can’t help thinking of Mrs Doubtfire – to begin the story. Mrs Whittington is “a poor lonely widow-woman” from a dairy farm in Hawera. (cue sad “ohhhhhhhh”) who has a son, our hero, Dick (Flora Lloyd).

After receiving a disappointing payout from ‘the co-op’ – one of the many topical lines/gags with Fonterra having just announced its reduced dividend pay-out to shareholders – Dick decides to head to Wellington with his cat Tom (Charli Gartrell) to make his fortune. 

Away he heads and before he reaches Wellington he meets, befriends and is swindled by the pantomime villain King Rat (Andy Gartrell).

The young hero meets Alice, the young woman he is ‘going to marry’ (Madison Hughes), gets a job, loses job, stows away, is shipwrecked on the tropical island of taiaha-twirling Chief Bananarama’s (Hamiora Tuari) and is forced to confront and fight the King Rat.

Under the skilful direction of Alan Palmer and with slick choreography by Leigh Evans, the whole company delivers Roger Hall’s script and Paul Jenden’s wonderful lyrics accompanied by Michael Nicholas William’s rollicking compositions with excellent energy and superb diction.  The song ‘Evening Post’ is led with huge belt and assurance by the comic duo Cecil and Ethel Bethel (Kaylee Morrison and Bronte Fitzgibbon).

These students give their all to this challenging genre and for the most part succeed very well in keeping the pace, the attention and the laughs of the supportive, albeit small first night audience.  We, the audience, aren’t as quick on playing our part and need some (a little too obvious) prompting from the tech desk.

The adlibbed asides and fraternising play out pretty well and I’m sure that with more practice with each new audience these will become more comfortable along with even larger characterisations. 

All the 2nd years get a chance to shine whether, playing a larger or a smaller role, and are ably supported by the first years and the tech team.


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