EST. 1978



Dryburn Theatrical Workshop has produced numerous musicals and pantomimes over the years, but this was the first pantomime that I had been invited to as a NODA North Regional Representative, and I was not disappointed. With a superb cast delivering all the qualities and enthusiasm that a pantomime should have, “Dick Whittington and his Cat” was certainly an audience pleaser.

It was obvious from the opening of scene one that this was going to be a  polished performance in the competent and experienced hands of their Director, Michelle Coulson, choreographer, Helen Wilson, and Musical Director, Brian Pennick. A special acknowledgement must go to the production team, with Douglas Shearer as stage manager, Sheila Quinn in charge of Wardrobe and Miriam Maddocks, properties. This behind the scenes team certainly ensured that show ran without any hitches. This hard working production team ensured that they got the best from the cast. The scenery from Proscenium looked great, and so was the sound and lighting from Hi Lights Theatre Services. The costumes from Molly Limpets were very authentic, and complemented each individual character, and, with Brian Pennick on piano accompanying the cast, the musical numbers were well chosen to suit the pantomime.

Claire Jordan who played Dick Whittington, gave a professional performance  She has great stage presence and a fantastic voice, delivering her musical numbers with confidence. King Rat was played very well by Phil Martin who looked quite imposing in his costume, and had the audience booing in all the right places. A confident performance was given by Joe Coulson who played Mouse adorned in his authentic costume, which characterised his part. Sarah Cook, as Fairy Bowbells, kept the magic alive and narrated throughout the show.  Another excellent performance was by Lee Passmoor who played Idle Jack.  He kept the whole show together and managed to inject plenty of humour into his character, ensuring that the audience participated throughout. Good performances were given by Steve Pinkney, who played Alderman Fitzwarren of the Fitzwarren Stores, and Emma Scott who played his beautiful daughter Alice, and worked very well with Dick Whittington and Idle Jack. As pantomime dames go Malcolm Quinn, who played the part of Sarah the Cook, gave us the perfect dame. He interacted well with the audience and delivered his one liners and innuendoes which the audience reacted to and enjoyed.

As the show moved into act two we were transported aboard the Saucy Sal where we were introduced to Captain Horatio Fitwarren played by Margaret Smith. Her character, based on the character Jack Sparrow, was excellent.  I have seen Margaret in several shows over the years, and she never fails to deliver and maintains her character throughout her performance. During the voyage we also come across the Emperor of Morocco, played by Gary Blackbird, and Libby Kennedy who played the Mermaid. But the star of the show in my opinion must be Tommy the Cat, played by Rhiann Quinn. She was infectious to watch, her mannerisms and stage presence for such a young lady was exceptional, and someone to watch out for in the future.

As for the chorus of citizens, rats, sailor’s guards, palace attendants and dancers, they all played a vital part throughout the show and were a real asset to the production and delivered their performances with enthusiasm.

Special mention must go to the front of house staff and supporters of Dryburn Theatrical Workshop who certainly worked hard.  All in all an excellent production with lots of enthusiasm and fun and joy for the audience. Well Done.

Author: Peter Oliver