Review Dick Whittington
presented by Chippefield Theatre Group on 15,16 and 17 January 2003
Wow. Where do I start? From the opening bars of the first song and dance number, this production had everything and the audience knew it – their raucous participation more akin to the Hackney Empire than Chipperfield Village Hall and very welcome it was too. The place was absolutely electric.
The casting directors deserve praise for daring to throw some new and less experienced faces into the fray. It could have been a case of Christians and lions but ALL of those involved rewarded their bosses confidence. Jo Halkett grabbed her chance of the lead with both hands and played Dick with a straight bat, proving to be an excellent foil to the assortment of comic characters that surrounded her. John Oglesby had us laughing along with his cheeky dame, Sarah Cronin charmed us with her coy cockney fairy and Paul Instrall had us wondering how CTG could afford to cast Anthony Worrel Thompson in his hilarious portrayal of Fitzwarren. I daresay we will see more of Wendy East too in future – she particularly impressed me in her relatively minor role as Bosun Muck, and, rather worryingly, her beard was far too convincing.
Yet it takes more than an impressive troupe of actors to make a show such a success. So credit must go to Danielle Marchant and Joan Golden for their excellent choreography. Much work had evidently gone into matching the songs with appropriately theatrical dance routines and the group is fortunate to have several young members who performed these with aplomb.
The songs themselves were neatly interspersed – familiar pop tunes and specially written panto numbers. These were fantastic with the song about Chipperfield (containing the wonderful line: “Its only half an hour from Harrow Weald”) bringing the house down. And for once, there was a script to match – whether the jokes about Anne Diamond and Michael Barrymore were included originally one can only speculate but they injected a hugely enjoyable slice of mischief.
So at the end of the night there was nothing to do except applaud those that provided us with a tremendous evenings entertainment. It was a fitting way for Chippefield Theatre Group to celebrate their tenth anniversary and if they continue to produce work of this calibre then they will no doubt be celebrating many many more in years to come. Jason CoxTags: Theatre Group