Five minutes with… writer Tom Wells and the Dick Whittington cast

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Published: Thursday 15th December 2016 by Rich Sutherland

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Self-dubbed ‘The theatre company that makes a noise’, Middle Child returns with another festive escapade in the form of Dick Whittington. Their fifth alternative pantomime, writer Tom Wells presents a wild style that’s bound to be a hit with theatregoers of all ages.

The story follows Dick, Cat and Baps as they battle Queen Rat’s evil empire to find out if the streets of London really are paved with gold. Kids and grown-ups alike will love joining in with the fun, noise and chaos of the show.

We caught up with Tom and the cast to chat all things theatre and see what audiences can expect from this vibrant production.

“It’s proper Christmassy fun,” Tom enthuses. “The story of Dick Whittington is the perfect choice for a panto for lots of reasons: the goodies win, the baddie is properly wicked, and there’s a lot of audience participation.”

“The main reason that it’s perfect is because there’s a really lovely central character. Everyone loves Dick,” he chuckles. And if slightly naughty jokes are your thing (and you’re over 18), you can choose the special adults only performances. These run on 17, 19, 21, 23, 27 and 29 December at 9:30pm.

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Tom, who we have to thank for some fantastic plays, including Jumpers for Goalposts, Folk and The Kitchen Sink, has been extremely busy for the past year: “I’ve spent all of 2016 writing and touring plays!”

In particular, he has loved working with Hull-based Middle Child Theatre: “The partnership between Middle Child and myself has been lovely. They’re a brilliant theatre company, and they do the best panto in Hull.”

Marc Graham, the panto dame, added: “It’ll make you want to throw your TV out of the window and never watch that rubbish again.”

Pantomimes are always a popular choice for Christmas entertainment. An ideal way of getting the whole family involved and into the festive spirit, it’s no wonder that playwrights like Tom adore them so much.

“The thing I love most about panto is that it’s daft, it’s funny and it’s for everyone,” he explains.

Dick Whittington certainly sounds like it fits that description: “This year we have a character called Keith the Fairy. He’s my favourite. I don’t know why – he just is.”

Obviously a fan of Christmas fun and frolicking, we asked Tom what was on the top of his wish list. His answer was sweet and simple: “Gingerbread!”

Emma Bright, who plays Dick Whittington, is also fun of beans: “It’s really exciting to be part of a Tom Wells play. He’s a writer who I’ve wanted to work with for a long time. It’s also such a privilege to be involved in a production that’s so fun, and have the opportunity to share some festive cheer with families.”

Alice Beaumont, Queen Rat, is thrilled for a different reason: “After four years of being the hero, I can’t wait to play the villain for the first time and soak up those boos and jeers from the audience.”

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Dick Whittington runs at Fruit 17-29 December 2016. Tickets start from £9, which you can purchase from Hull Box Office by calling 01482 221113, or you can book online.

Rehearsal photography: Sarah Beth

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Published: Thursday 15th December 2016 by Rich Sutherland

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