Charity Players turn again to Christchurch

DICK Whittington and his Cat  will be fighting the evil King Rat on stage at Christchurch Regent Centre from 13th to 20th January, in the Highcliffe Charity Players’ annual pantomime.

The company returns to the favourite rags-to-riches adventure after more than ten years with ten performances including three mat­in­ees, a mid-morning and a tea time show. And always, profits will be donated to local charities.

The ever-popular story follows the  penniless Dick on his journey from the West Country to London, where he believes the streets will be paved with gold. His only friend is with his cat Tommy.

Once he arrives in the capital, he gets a job with Alderman Fitzwarren, and falls in love with the merchant’s daughter, Alice. But the villainous King Rat is out to get our hero, by means most foul.

Forced to flee on the high seas with a motley crew, Dick is eventually washed up on the rat-infested shores of Arabia.

But this is a traditional pantomime, so good triumphs over evil as Dick and Tommy defeat King Rat and his vermin army and soon they are back to London, where the hand of Alice and the Lord Mayoralty of London await.

On the way there is fun, laughter, excitement, songs, dances and the usual quota of slapstick comedy and audience participation … oh yes there is!

Former HCP chairman Matthew Smith, whose late father Tony co-founded the Players in 1971 and was their unforgettable dame for 25 years, returns to direct after a gap of more than ten years.

And the family tradition continues. Matthew’s 17-year-old son Stanley is playing Tommy the Cat.

Making her panto debut is 24-year-old Naomi Mantle as the principal boy. Dick’s sweetheart Alice is played by 22-year-old Hannah Jean, whose last panto role was Jim Hawkins in  Treasure Island.

“It’s nice to be playing a girl this time around.  Luckily, though I ’m 5ft 10ins, Naomi is as tall as I am!” says Hannah.

Charity Players stalwart Mike Young relishes the role of the evil King Rat, with Paul Barrington returning as HCP’S larger-than-life Dame – Gertrude Sprat.

Another seasoned HCP favourite, Malcolm George, plays her son  Idle Jack Sprat.

Denis Carlton is Alderman Fitzwarren with and Debra Slee making her HCP debut as Fairy Bow-Bells.

For full details, telephone 01202 499199 or visit the websites www.regentcentre.co.uk or www.highcliffecharityplayers.com

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