Who wins panto cat fight?!

Panto claws . . . Alex Lilley, left, played Puss in Boots in the Willows School panto production as Vicki Jamieson took to the stage at Bridgetown as Tommy in Dick Whittington. Photo: Mark Wiliamson W5/1/18/0032

WHERE’S the pantomime season? It’s behind you!

Not for two local primary schools who have this month performed their annual parent/staff pantomimes — and this year, it turned into a real cat-fight!

Last year, Herald arts reported on a competition between Richard Milward, who was producing Bridgetown’s first annual pantomime, and Richard Sandle-Keynes, had just taken over the helm of The Willows’ 41st show.

The two Dicks vied to be crowned writer of the best panto gag. Last year Mr Sandle-Keynes was victorious, but Mr Milward was back for the rematch this year and the claws were out!

As Bridgetown staged Dick Whittington (2nd to 4th February), The Willows put on on Puss in Boots (16th to 18th February) and themed their ‘Battle of the Pantos’ around both had cats as central characters.

The two Dicks spoke to Herald arts ahead of the shows and both were confident of victory. “I’m convinced that, once again, The Willow’s Puss will beat Bridgetown’s Dick,” Mr Sandle-Keynes explained.

“Ours is going to be a tight production; we’ve got fairies (Twinkl and Tuppence), an ogre, cat-chy songs and singalongs — everything that a panto audience wants!

“For the first time we have not only parents, teachers and TAs, but also a governor, a member of our excellent office team, and Phil Harper, the families minister from Holy Trinity Church. The Bridgetown show is going to look limp by comparison!”

“Oh, no it isn’t!” retorted Bridgetown’s impresario, Mr Milward, who isn’t directing this year, but couldn’t resist coming back to play the dame — a role he also played last year.

This year, the competition will be judged by Stratford Musical Theatre Company’s Elaine Binks; she has told both Richards that she wants a ‘good, clean cat-fight’ but thanks them for the hampers and champagne that they have been sending her since she was chosen as this year’s referee!

The criteria for the competition has changed, too, and include marks for categories such as Best Songs, Funniest gags and Puss Factor!

See next week’s Herald to see which panto will be crowned ‘top cat’ and both Richards’ review of each other’s production.