BRINGING the traditional Christmas-time caper to the stage are a host of local singers, actors and dancers who promise an entertaining family-friendly spectacular.
Rather than hire a professional theatre company to perform a full-blown if generic show with a range of C-list stars, Harrow Arts Centre has, like the three previous years, organised its own production to feature faces from around north-west London who attended open auditions in August.
The show, Dick Whittington and His Cat, is an interpretation of the folk tale of 14th century medieval merchant Richard Whittington who was the four time Lord Mayor of London as well as an MP and sheriff of London.
Professional actress Vicki Elliot, 26, of Biddeford Road, South Ruislip, plays the lead role and the former Field End Primary School and Northwood School student said: “The story is about Dick’s journey to London from the country to try to find fame and fortune as the city is meant to be paved with gold.
“A cat befriends me and although it doesn’t speak, they become best friends and a lot of the story is about the relationship between the two.
“The cat, Tommy, helps Dick get a job in a shop and he falls in love with the shop owner’s daughter Alice. However, Alice has an admirer in Jack, who also works in the shop. But it is unrequited and Alice really loves Dick.”
The two-hour show is chock-full of popular songs such as In The Navy by the Village People and numbers from The Muppet Show and Disney films such as Tangled, as well as original pieces composed by musical director Jane Marlow.
Adults and children will love plenty of dancing and the production is packed full of audience participation alongside the usual light-hearted and cheeky dialogue.
Vicki, who said three costumes being made for her look are ‘absolutely fantastic’, explained: “Our pantomime has lots of laughs and the traditional characters such as the Dame, as well as the cheering, the booing and the ‘He’s behind you’ routine.
“It’s full of entertainment and it’s a great family show and will appeal to all generations and we’ve got jokes that will appeal to the adults. Rehearsals are going really well; it’s a great cast and the director, Dominique, and musical director are absolutely fantastic.”
Calum Stephenson, 17, of Lyncroft Avenue, Pinner, had starred in productions at Nower Hill High School in George V Avenue, Pinner, where he is a sixth former, before attending the open auditions and landing the role of Dick’s love rival, Jack.
He said: “He loves Alice when Dick shows up and Alice falls in love with him and Jack becomes very jealous.
“Jack is slightly stupid and idle, and gets manipulated by the main baddie – King Rat – to frame Dick for stealing money. He’s quite a funny character who doesn’t really want to do much work and follows everyone else around.
“I think the pantomime’s going to be brilliant, very well organised and really successful.”
Art students and staff from Nower Hill High School will help designer Hilary Stapps with scenery painting and possibly the props and costumes.
Audiences will get to see Francine Gardner, 30, of Edmonton Green, north London, play Tommy the cat who can’t speak but mimes and meows her thoughts – although she magically gains the power of song for one hit.
Peter Biggs, 54, of Harrow, stars as the Dame, Ian Antony Paul, 50, of Kentish Town, north London, is Fitzwarren, the shopkeeper and Alice’s father, and Stuart Slattery, a 33-year-old plumber from Hatch End, will attract hisses as nasty King Rat.
Maddy Walsh, 24, of Kenton, is Fairy Bowbells while Cristina Magdan, 16, of Harrow, Royan Khayri, 17, of Ruislip, Rob Clyne, 34, of Hatch End, and Andeep Lota, 29, of Harrow, are the ensemble cast.
Director Dominique Gerrard said: “I grew up in Harrow and was involved in youth theatre at the arts centre many years ago so it’s nice to be back in Harrow.
“We’ve got a range of talents and background and experience but there’s a lot of ability.
“It’s a great story and there’s plenty for young children to enjoy and some good jokes for parents and kids alike.
“We’re looking forward to people coming to see it.”