The New Wolsey Rock n Roll pantos have long been a Christmas time tradition for audiences in and around Ipswich.
Former artistic director Peter Rowe, the originator of the theatre’s Rock n Roll format, stood down from the role in 2022 and following Peter was going to be a hard act to follow for any writer.
This year’s offering is Dick Whittington, and incoming artistic director Douglas Rintoul and his team including writer Vikki Stone have done Peter proud.
Vikki is a past performer with the New Wolsey’s pantos and has stayed true to producing a panto filled with great sing-along songs, performed by the highly talented actor musicians. However Vikki has expanded on the legacy that audiences have come to love.
The result is a brilliantly written script with some good gags but this year some cleverly reworded lyrics to the songs.
Normally the Wolsey has a more grown up appeal but this year Dick Whittington keeps the cleverly written double entendres, while returning to more classic panto favourites such as “We’ll have to do it again then”.
Well done to Douglas for allowing Vikki the freedom to put her own stamp on the production in her writing, the result is a newly invigorated and brilliant treat for all the family.
Of the cast, they are what we have come to expect, highly talented and versatile. Steve Simmonds a regular dame in previous years, hangs up his frock to take on the villainous King Rat, meanwhile Max Kinder takes on the dame role of Sarah. Elizabeth Rowe returns in the lead female role of Alice, amazing vocals as always!! And after a supporting role in a previous panto it’s nice to see Luke Thornton back on the Wolsey stage and this time in the lead role of Dick Whittington.
Stand out performance however must be Myles Miller as The Cat, very convincing and for those old enough to remember, played with a slight nod to the ship’s cat in tv’s Red Dwarf.
I will leave the final word to two young audiences members sitting next to us with their mum, asked what they thought we got “Brilliant, 10 out of 10”.
• Dick Whittington and his Cat is at The New Wolsey, Ipswich until Saturday 20th January, 2024 – www.wolseytheatre.co.uk. Box Office 01473 295900
Review: Mark Keable, Ipswich24 Magazine