Dick gets a new cat

TWENTY miles to London and still no sign of Dick! A Suffolk pantomime has today been saved after an actress playing a pivotal role fell ill, it has been announced.

TWENTY miles to London and still no sign of Dick!

A Suffolk pantomime has today been saved after an actress playing a pivotal role fell ill, it has been announced.

The Dennis Lowe Theatre Company's production of Dick Whittington at Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion was in jeopardy after 16-year-old Vicky Jam fell ill with glandular fever.

Vicky was due to play Dick Whittington's cat in the show which runs from December 20 to January 4.

The role has been taken over by pantomime director Suzie Lowe.

Suzie said: “Unfortunately Vicky has fallen ill and cannot play the cat after all. But the show must go on so the production team agreed I will take on the role.”

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The 24-year-old has played the role before in the company's production of Dick Whittington in 1995.

Suzie said: “The cat is a much loved character and part of the tradition of pantomime. The cat accompanies Dick on his journey to London and catches the rats that threaten to plague the city. He doesn't say anything but he does dance.”

Joined by Rebecca Darcy who plays Dick, the cat, called Tommy, travels abroad to rid the land of rats. The duo have to overcome the attempts of the villain King Rat to thwart their plans.

Suzie added: “The cat is Dick's constant companion and his best friend. He always looks out for him and warns him of trouble.

“Playing the cat has been a bit unexpected but I'm looking forward to it.”

The pantomime has a 30 strong cast including children from the Felixstowe-based Hamilton School of Dance.

The pantomime runs from December 20 until January 4. For tickets call the box office on 01394 282126.

Which is your favourite pantomime? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The story of Dick Whittington has been performed as a play since around 1605. It was first performed as a pantomime in 1814.

There is no evidence Dick Whittington had a cat.

Samuel Pepys mentions seeing a production of Dick Whittington at Southwark Fair in 1668.

Dick died in London in 1423.

In 1402, aged 52, he married Alice Fitzwarren.

He was a successful trader, dealing in valuable imports such as silks and velvets, much of which he sold to the Royal court from about 1388.

He was Lord Mayor of London a number of times and became an MP in 1416.

Sir Richard Whittington left £7,000 to charity in his will - a huge sum - the charity still exists today.

The Whittington hospital in London is named after him, and a small statue of a cat along Highgate Hill commemorates his legendary cat.