Behind the scenes at the Marlowe Theatre rehearsals for Dick Whittington
80 performances over 6 weeks. I hadn’t really focused on those numbers before but explains why over the years of photographing behind the scenes at the Marlowe Theatre rehearsals I’ve witnessed them rehearse and fine tune the pantomime performances so much.
Evolution Productions, which produces around seven newly created bespoke pantomimes each year across the UK have seen the traditional panto go through a “rags to riches” transformation. After a decline by the 80s and 90s, the likes of Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry at the Old Vic, Jonathan Harvey and Mark Ravenhill at the Barbican took the genre and reinvigorated it.
What you see on stage for 80 performances over 6 weeks is the culmination of a year long process of scripting, casting, rehearsing, sets building, costumes and props making. Music has to be written. Dancers need choreography sessions. Each panto is created for the hosting theatre with something added to make them particular to each audience in each town they play. The more personal the connection the better. Jokes and references are included that only they and a select group of others would understand. Locality is everything. During the autumn months, theatre staff are consulted, local papers read, place names and reputations researched and all are used in the mix when the final stages of the script are put together.
Dick Whittington is playing at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury until January 8th and you can see them rehearsing in the selection below.Stephen Mulhern (Billy); John Barr (King Rat); Lloyd Hollett ( Captain Crabstick); Francesca Wright (the Cat); Ben Carruthers (Dick); Vladimir Georgievsky ( Alderman Fitzwarren); Ben Roddy (Dolly); Jemma Carlisle (Alice Fitzwarren); Lisa Davina Phillip (Fairy Bow-Bells).