Theatre Club kick off the pantomime festivities

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PANTO season is upon us – so those of us not of a Scrooge-like disposition can enjoy some absolutely ridiculous family fun.

Even though children are gearing up their shouting voices and start answering back with ‘Oh no it isn’t’ to any reasonable request, that comes in very handy for the traditional outing to the Carnoustie Theatre Club’s annual pantomime.

This year, the company presented ‘Dick Whittington and his Cat’ under producer Andy Gilbride, musical director Joanna Fitzgerald and panto manager David Cheape.

It tells the old story of Dick and his cat, who seek fame and fortune in 14th century London.

The action opens with the minions of the evil Rat King (Grant Roach), performing a creepy swarming dance to the strains of ‘London Calling’ by The Clash, before introducing the villain of the piece.

Grant is on top form as King Rat, building on his part last year as The Beast in ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

The hirsute King Rat brings to mind King Robert from Game of Thrones, as Grant storms around the stage uttering his clever verse.

A particular high point in his performance was his rendition of ‘Smooth Criminal’, complete with Daz-white suit and hat-tipping action.

Relative newcomer Mike Burns has the opportunity to showcase his singing talent as the eponymous Dick, and merrily romps through some daft scenes, including a re-enactment of the famous ‘fork handles’ sketch by Morecambe and Wise and an advert for Fitzicat cat food.

Along with Alice (Kim Brymer), the pair have some cracking duets to get their teeth into, including ‘Rolling on the river’ by the Credence Clearwater Revival. Kim was in fine voice, as always, and was excellent as Alice, the love interest of both Dick and Idle Jack.

Jerry Swinley has his work cut out for him as Alderman Fitzwarren, Captain Horatio Fitzwarren and the Emperor of Morocco. The three roles let him try out some outlandish accents, and his ‘P’ monologue near the beginning was funny, clever and impressive.

Obviously the three characters never appear together, so the cast came up with the very entertaining device of looking off-stage and giving a running commentary about what the incoming character was doing – such as window shopping, having a chat or even going to the toilet.

Idle Jack (Alex Wells) was very funny as a lovelorn loser, and some of his best moments came during the silent movie era chase scene and when he impersonated the Great Abracadabra for the Emperor.

For someone without a speaking role, Kelli Griffis really gets a lot across in a ‘meow’ as Tommy the Cat, and her comic timing was spot on as the magical moggy.

Audrey Doherty puts a new spin on the fairy godmother Bowbells with her rhyming Cockney punk who steps in at various points to keep the heroes on track.

The dame – as always – steals the show, and it would be fair to describe George Doherty’s ‘Sarah the cook’ as an outrageously mouthy Glaswegian.

Sarah has some of the best one-liners, and had the audience chuckling away every time she was on stage, particularly during the human resources nightmare that was the staff training day at Fitzwarren’s shop.

There were plenty of excellent cameo scenes, and the company members have really outdone themselves with their special effects.

The ‘Finding Nemo’ undersea sequence used ultraviolet lighting and luminous paint, along with some eagle-eyed dancers, to great effect.

The Rat Pack ‘That’s Life’ scene not only gave Sarah a chance for a song, but injected a bit of cool finger-snapping into the action.

The backstage crew must be congratulated on all their hard work. The costumes were fantastic, the sets were spectacular and the sound and lighting were excellent.

‘Dick Whittington and his Cat’ finishes tomorrow (Saturday) on stage at Carnoustie High School, and will prove a hard act for other Angus pantos to follow.