Dick Whittington and his Cat

IAN CLARKE Memorial Hall, Dereham

IAN CLARKE

It's becoming as much a guaranteed post-Christmas tradition in Mid Norfolk as cold turkey, a brisk walk and shopping at the sales.

Yes, a fine performance in the Dereham panto by dame Tony Wilds really is entering that league.

The audiences love him, he loves being on the stage and his confidence, effervescence and great knowledge of what makes a panto tick, means the rest of the cast benefits hugely from him being there.

Tony – who plays Sarah, the cook for merchant trader Alderman Fitzwarren – has developed an obvious following among the Dereham crowds for the end of year madcap spectacular.

And what a wardrobe he has! There was a Union Jack frock, one covered with fried eggs and not forgetting a not so little cow number, complete with udders!

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Of course, it is not a one-man (or should I say one woman) show. "Nasty" Nick Bird was splendid as the villain, King Rat, and Tom Monument clearly enjoyed celebrating his birthday as he played Mate.

The little members of the cast who starred as little fairies and rats were delightful.

Saturday's opening show was a bit pedestrian at times, and early on the audience was surprisingly quiet.

But by the time the kids got on to the stage for the obligatory panto singalong, the atmosphere had certainly warmed up.

Credit to the behind the scenes team for good choreography of dance routines, excellent backdrops and colourful costumes.

t The panto continues this week at Dereham Memorial Hall until January 3. Box office:01362 851919.

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