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Dick Whittington and His Cat - New Wolsey Theatre Review

Reviewed by Mark Johnson
Disclaimer: stream link was gifted in return for an honest review.

The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich once more stage their annual festive treat of a rock ‘n’ roll pantomime with this years offering delighting with a production of Dick Whittington and his Cat.

Luke Thornton, Elizabeth Rowe, Max Kinder and the company. Photo by Mike Kwasniak.

Continuing what the venue began in lockdown the theatre has once again been streaming the show live to viewers as well as playing to an in person audience in the Suffolk venue. Not many theatres have continued this and it’s a brilliantly engaging way for families to join together from near and far to watch the show together in their homes. 

This year’s production is written by Vikki Stone who has written a superb show that is chock full of laughter, music and magic as we follow Dick Whittington on his journey to London to seek fame and fortune. 

Along the side of the a12 we meet our hero Dick played by Luke Thornton and the cat played by Myles Miller as they set off towards London. Thornton is instantly likeable with charm and an ease in the role. He shows great bright leading man energy. Miller also is hugely enjoyable to watch.

As the journey goes on Dick meets The Fairy played by Janna May who is a sparkling presence who tells Dick of the prophecy that he will save London and become Mayor. 
In London, we meet Alice played by Elizabeth Rowe who is a sweet strong presence throughout and is perfectly cast in the role. Max Kinder has a hoot as Sarah, the dame character. Kinder has a strong delivery of the jokes and interacts brilliantly with those around them.

Having previously played Dame, Steve Simmonds this year takes on the villainous role of King Rat. Simmonds relishes the role and is deliciously evil in great pantomime style. He takes every boo and hiss in his stride aided by the his sidekick rats played by Jordan Eskeisa and Eloise Richardson. Simmons shows serious prowess on the electric guitar too. Olivia Bennett supports and has a neat moment as Mr Binhead.

Jordan Eskeisa, Janna May, Olivia Bennett and Eloise Richardson. Photo by Mike Kwasniak.

With the jeopardy placed at the interval the second act heads on board to the secret island where the rat catching contest is taking place. The contest turns out to be ran by King Rat and a trap to capture Dick and his cat. 

The cast of actor-musicians act, perform and sing brilliantly throughout. The musical numbers blend in to the storytelling with numbers including ‘500 Miles’, ‘Firework’ and ‘Holding Out For A Hero’ given foot stomping worth renditions. Every cast member has great vocal ability and are skilled musicians which comes to the fore at the fantastic finale.

As with any pantomime there’s a plethora of local jokes and references that run throughout the show and there’s plenty of risqué jokes that will glide over the kids heads. The audience interaction translates well on screen, with a few mentions of the live stream audience throughout and even including them in the shoutout section. 

Emily Bestow’s colourful costumes and set design cleverly uses the space whilst the multi-camera work captures the show tremendously for the audience watching at home. The crystal clear sound design (sound designed by James Cook) means every note and word is heard. The venue also streams with captions and audio description options for those who need it. 

New Wolsey continue to offer something slightly alternative when it comes to pantomime. Whether you’re watching from the theatre or from your home this is a magnificent piece of entertainment. 

Dick Whittington and his Cat plays at Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre in person until Saturday 20th January. There are even a couple of ages 16+ late performances. The live stream option is available for every performance up to and including Saturday 30th December. You can tickets and more information from

Elizabeth Rowe and Luke Thornton. Photo by Mike Kwasniak.

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