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Dick Whittington and his Cat | New Wolsey Theatre

The New Wolsey Theatre’s latest pantomime Dick Whittington and his Cat, written and composed by the award-winning Vikki Stone, is a Rock ‘n’ Roll feast of festive fun and laughter. Join a small but mighty cast on a mission to find fame, fortune, and friendship!


This new version of the classic family-favourite combines bright colours, clever technical choices, and incredible on-stage chemistry to lead us on a journey where we follow Dick Whittington (and, of course, his cat) on their great adventure. On the way we encounter creatures of many shapes and sizes, from talking wheelie bins, to fairy-pirates, and the scariest rats in London, who are all also actor musicians!


It is so impressive to watch the performers provide their own score and sound effects - under the direction and design of Dan de Cruz and James Cook, respectively, and the song choices are all upbeat with a variety of genres, so folks of all ages and backgrounds will be able to bop along in their seats. However I did feel that this additional responsibility detracted from the movement within the show. It may be that there were too many physical limitations in place with multiple large instruments to consider, however Maggie Rawlinson’s choreography felt lacklustre in comparison to other visual elements like Craig West’s spectacular lighting.


Another disappointing element was the book itself, as Stone starts off strong with witty and current humour which really gets the audience on side but by about halfway through act one, there are fewer belly laughs despite the full house. This is because jokes are now being reused and becoming predictable, or the punchline relies too heavily on audience interaction that they just aren’t landing. The plot remains clear and easy to follow throughout, which is useful for both grown ups looking for an undemanding watch, and also little ones who might find it harder to keep up with complex character developments or layers upon layers of artistic intention driving these character’s actions.


One thing that compensates for this is Douglas Rintoul’s fantastic job of directing the show, as he facilitates the story’s unfolding at just the right pace - giving us time to appreciate the talent on stage while also encouraging us to get swept up in the craziness that comes from the characters and their mischievous ways!



Emily Bestow’s designs also have a huge part to play in this sensation, as both the set and costumes are so vibrant that you can’t help but beam when you see a new look appear in front of you. The space was very well used, as everything there had multiple purposes - and some of the best moments came when these uses revealed themselves, as you often couldn't see it coming. This is particularly lovely to see in a pantomime as it is so many young people’s first introduction to theatre, as it really sets a high standard!


Although a stellar job was done by the whole ensemble, Steve Simmonds was the standout performance as the villain - a role which he was reportedly very excited about after taking on the opposite end of the spectrum as last year’s dame - and it absolutely showed. His stage presence, booming tonality, and overall wickedness, had the audience going wild.


This energy was established from the very first line and stayed 100% until the very end of the bows, which is thanks to everyone of course, but especially our protagonist, played by Luke Thornton, who seemed to flit between singing, acting, dancing, and rocking out on his guitar so quickly, it genuinely seemed like Christmas magic! You would never believe that one person could light up so many elements of a single show but he really did, and made it look effortless to boot.


The show is running in Ipswich until the 20th January 2024 and there are audio described, British Sign Language interpreted, captioned, relaxed/dementia-friendly and livestreamed performances available during the run, so it really is a pantomime for everyone! Get your tickets here.


⭐️⭐️⭐️


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | written by Katie (@katieanna.mcconnell)

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