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Thursday January 3rd 2019

January 4, 2019

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Photos by Steve Tanner

Its colder- first Wintery feel here at Plymouth! Left the cosy warm Hotel for the streets of Plymouth which are surpringly NOT paved with gold. I didn’t hang about and headed straight for the Theatre, and the Dressing Room.

Had a lovely chat with TRP’s CEO (That is a lot of abreviations!) Adrian Vinken OBE, the two of us reminiscing about the many classic pantomimes and Dames that have trod the boards here in Plymouth- Jack Tripp and Les Dawson in particular, and the lovely Dame June Whitfield who passed away last week. A Fabulous Fairy in those Roy Hudd  & Jack Trip Pantomimes. Wished we’d chatted longer, but had to get my face on in time for the matinee. I arrive an hour before curtain up- and the “new” me has all my make up on by the half. The “old” me used to leave it to the last quarter of an hour!

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The safe is open!

Our slick Quick changes are going swimmingly. Team Felicity – Ryan, Theresa and Jannine on sound (My wigs need to be put on carefully under supervision to keep the microphone and indeed the battery pack in position) is a mean changing machine!

Here’s a short video of our fastest change- from Lady Admiral to Sailor with a Ship On My Head in a matter of about twenty seconds!

 

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The Story Of Dick Whittington is of course a British tale- based on fact. The other British Legends or Fairy Tales include Robinson Crusoe (also based partly on fact- Alexander Selkirk was the original Crusoe) Robin Hood (and The Babes In The Wood) and Jack and The Beanstalk- originally Jack The Giant Killer. Joining this Brit pack nowadays is “Peter Pan” which has become a Pantomime. Why A Cat as the character in “Dick Whittington”? Paws for thought…. (ouch!)

How a cat came to feature so heavily in the pantomime version is not clear. Richard Whittington may well have had a cat, but certainly it does not feature in any accounts of his life. Possibly the answer lies in his life as a merchant. Ships feature in the pantomime, and Whittington was a merchant. His fortune depended on the sailing vessels bringing goods from Africa and the Far East. More humble sailing vessels carrying coal were known as “Cats”, so that could be one reason the story became confused with the humble moggy. Another theory is that the French word “Achat”, which means “A Purchase” might have found itself intertwined in his legend.

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Why King Rat? The pantomime version has the villain depicted as “King Rat”. It is Whittington’s cat who destroys all the rats in the Sultan’s Palace, and indeed in his Kingdom, and this act makes Dick Whittington his vast fortune- half the wealth of the Sultan in return.

More likely the very shadow and spectre of the rats, bringing plague to London frequently made them the ideal villains for legend. When Samuel Pepys wrote in his Diary of 1668

 “To Southwark Fair, very dirty, and there saw the puppet show of Whittington, which was pretty to see

The Great Plague had only recently abated in London  three years previously. Londoners would have no problem associating the rodents with arch villainy.

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Photos by Steve Tanner

Two Shows tomorrow. 2.30pm and 7pm.

 

 

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