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Dick Whittington and His Cat

“Unfocused but spectacular”

Steve Marmion’s pantomime brings a taste of London to the Oxford Playhouse stage in his take on Dick Whittington and His Cat. There’s topical comedy about the floppy-haired former mayor of London and a streetwise Cat (played with elan by Alessandro Babalola), who raps and breakdances.

Max Olesker gives a deliciously villainous performance as the urbane King Rat, who schemes to overrun Mr Fitzwarren’s bakery and turn it into a chain of Rat-a-mangers, before launching his mayoral campaign. Paul Barnhill delivers a rich vocal performance and plenty of bread-related puns as the dame, Sarah the Cook, although she jostles for space in a story overcrowded with characters.

Photo: Geraint Lewis

Some of the funniest moments, for the adults in the audience at least, occur in the new lyrics Marmion and Bobby Goulder give to familiar pop songs. The rats’ dance number to Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ (‘We’re your bad rodents’) is an inspired bit of comic writing.

Other songs, including a whole-cast rendition of ‘One Day More’ and the opening number of Hamilton, seem shoehorned in. The intricate lyrics can also be hard to hear over the music due to the sound mixing.

Although an implausible plot is standard for pantomime, the second half of Marmion’s Dick Whittington is chaotic and confusing. The gang get shipwrecked and are rescued by Doctor Who, only to be imprisoned by Queen Zigazig-ah on a desert island. The excursion does give occasion for a spectacular UV-lit underwater scene and an extended Spice Girls medley.



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Production Details
Production nameDick Whittington and His Cat
VenueOxford Playhouse
StartsNovember 23, 2018
EndsJanuary 6, 2019
Running time2hrs
AuthorSteve Marmion
DirectorSteve Marmion
Musical directorBobby Goulder
ChoreographerStuart Rogers
Set designerAnthony Lamble, Scott Thompson
Costume designerAmanda Hambleton
Lighting designerAshley Bale
Sound designerJames Percival
CastRebecca Craven, Adrianna Bertola, Alessandro Babalola, Daisy Elwin, Elena Gyasi, Max Olesker, Natasha Thomas, Paul Barnhill, Paul Biggin, Ricky Oakley, Tim Treloar
TechnicalDeclan Watson, Immy Howard, Matt Gibson
Production managerSeb Cannings
Stage managerAli Day
ProducerHannah Groombridge, Oxfordhouse
VerdictUnfocused but spectacular, musical extravaganza of a pantomime
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