Norwich panto legend on laugh-out-loud comedy and Covid measures

Richard Gauntlett in Dick Whittington and his Cat, his 21st year in the Norwich Theatre Royal panto. 

Richard Gauntlett as Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington and his Cat, which is his 21st year in the Norwich Theatre Royal panto. - Credit: AJ Feather Photography

Panto stalwart Richard Gauntlett has returned to Norwich Theatre Royal for his 21st year and he stars as dame Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington and his Cat. 

Mr Gauntlett, who is also the co-director and scriptwriter, reveals what audiences can expect at the show, which runs until January 9. 

1. What can people expect from Dick Whittington this year?

Dick Whittington and his Cat features all the pantomime ingredients you know and love including dazzling dance routines, laugh-out-loud slapstick comedy and bags of audience participation that will have you shouting, “Oh no you won’t”.

Richard Gauntlett stars as the dame and also writes and co-directs the Norwich Theatre Royal panto. 

Richard Gauntlett stars as the dame and also writes and co-directs the Norwich Theatre Royal panto. - Credit: AJ Feather Photography

2. What keeps you coming back every year?

The first thing is they ask me! I have been doing pantomime in Norwich now for more than 20 years.

It has just sort of happened, and they keep asking me back every year.

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I don't know why I would go anywhere else because, after 20 years, I have lots of friends in Norwich, I know Norwich, I know the audience, and it is an absolute delight to come back every year.

3. How many costumes will you be wearing?

This year I shall be wearing 12 costumes! It was more actually, but we pared it down slightly.

Joe Pollard and Richard Gauntlett in the rocking boat scene in Dick Whittington and his Cat. 

Joe Pollard and Richard Gauntlett in the rocking boat scene in Dick Whittington and his Cat. - Credit: Laura Francis

4. What do you think is the best moment in the show this year?

There are several different things this year that happen. We obviously have Joe Tracini doing his dance routine, which is quite spectacular.

We have a lovely slosh routine with a room that doesn't stay still.

Oh! And there is a huge monster that attacks the ship, that's good, and there is swimming underwater, that's nice.

Expect lots of spectacles scattered throughout the whole evening.

5. Do you feel confident the whole run will go ahead due to Omicron developments?

We are all hopeful that we can perform it out to January 9 and we are all testing.

We have rigorous rules backstage in place with extra measures such as zoning backstage to keep performers, crew and audiences safe.

Other measures in place include hand sanitisers, enhanced cleaning, air purifiers and the auditorium misting system.

The audiences have been really supportive wearing face masks now, and we are all enjoying being there.

Richard Gauntlett as Sarah the Cook and Graham Cole as Alderman Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington and his Cat. 

Richard Gauntlett as Sarah the Cook and Graham Cole as Alderman Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington and his Cat. - Credit: Richard Jarmy Photography - @richardjarmy

6. Finally, why should people get tickets if they haven't already?

This show guaranteed to be a great night out for all the family that will keep you laughing all through the show.

Buy tickets at norwichtheatre.org