Review: Pantomime fun with Dick Whittington at the Cambridge Arts Theatre

PUBLISHED: 12:15 17 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:13 11 May 2010

Dick Whittington and his cat

Dick Whittington and his cat

USUALLY when one goes to the theatre, it s to get away from the humdrum events of real life. But if you re planning a trip to the Cambridge Arts Theatre to see their pantomime, Dick Whittington and his cat, don t be under any illusions that you can escape

USUALLY when one goes to the theatre, it's to get away from the humdrum events of real life.

But if you're planning a trip to the Cambridge Arts Theatre to see their pantomime, Dick Whittington and his cat, don't be under any illusions that you can escape the big stories of 2009.

Brad Fitt's new adaptation of the classic rags to riches tale sticks the boot in on MP's who fiddle their expenses and bankers who take home huge bonuses, proving that there is enough room in any panto for more than one villain.

But dalliances with reality aside, Dick Whittington is the kind of sparkling production you would expect from a team with the experience of those at work at the Arts Theatre.

Regular star turn Julie Buckfield takes the role of Dick, who arrives in London seeking fame and fortune and gets a job at Alderman Fitzwarren's (John Pennington) emporium, catching the eye of his pretty daughter Alice (Amy Castledine) in the process.

However, when he is branded a thief by the dastardly King Rat - a self confessed "rascal rodent from the wrong side of Romford" - Dick and his cat Tommy (Kaine Horey) have to don disguises and accompany the Alderman to Morocco in a bid to prove his innocence and fulfil his destiny as three-time Lord Mayor of London.

Buckfield and Castledine both put in good stints in the leading rolls, as did James Hirst as King Rat and Matt Crosby as the buffoonish Idle Jack.

But the real stars of the show were fantastic feline Horey, and Fitt, who as usual takes the part of the dame, Sarah the Cook.

From the moment he cartwheeled onto the stage, Horey's Tommy the cat prowled and preened his way through an energetic and acrobatic performance which enthralled viewers old and young alike.

Meanwhile Fitt and his ever-changing wardrobe illuminated almost every scene, with the dame reeling off puns and witty lines at a rate of knots.

A word too for the young chorus line, whose dance routines were complex yet confidently executed, and the productions sets, which were bolder and more creative than ever before - one underwater scene involving Fairy Bowbells (Lisa Miller) and a host of fluorescent fish was particularly spectacular.

All in all it was a sublime production and a fantastic festive night out for all the family. The team at the Arts Theatre have done it again, and though the streets of London may not be paved with precious metals, Dick Whittington and his Cat is jam-packed with pantomime gold.

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