It’s OK to shout and boo at the at the actors in the ECHO Players latest production, but only when the cast members tell you to.
Director Julian Packer said the audience will know when to boo and when to cheer because they will teach them throughout the production.
The ECHO Players’ winter production is Dick Whittington, a pantomime rags-to-riches adventure story of Dick Whittington.
“It’s not like a regular play. They have to boo. They boo the evil queen. They cheer, of course, they shout out,” he said.
On the ECHO Players’ website, there is a list of five things you must not do which include being quiet, singing silently, laughing behind your hand, applauding politely and acting dumb.
There is also five things you must do which include booing at the Queen Rat, singing your head off, yelling answers, shout “Go water the wose” and shout even louder “It’s not just nice, it’s gorgeous!”
Dick Whittington is the story of a young man who sets out to make his fame and fortune in London. Whittington finds that “rather than being paved with gold, the streets are plagued with rats.”
With the help of the Good Fairy, Tommy the Cat, Saucy Sal and the lovely Alice, Whittington challenges the evil Queen Rat.
Packer said the play Dick Whittington is based on real life “as far as there was a Richard Whittington.”
Packer said he worked as a merchant in the import and export textile business during the time of Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V of England.
“He clothed royalty, so he was a very valuable member of society,” Packer said.
Packer said another fact about Dick Whittington was he was also lord mayor of London four times.
The legends surround Whittington, Packer said, started around Victorian times.
“When it came to the Victorians, they really liked him because he was so hard-working and he was into capitalism,” Packer said. “Then they developed a play around him.”
Otherwise, Packer said, there are questions surrounding Whittington such as whether or not he had a cat and how he became rich.
“How did he become a rich person? Well, in the legends he sailed to the Middle East and rid the kingdom of rats got a whole pile of riches and came back and was materially successful,” Packer said.
“How did he become a rich person? Well, in the legends he sailed to the Middle East and rid the kingdom of rats got a whole pile of riches and came back and was materially successful,” Packer said. “Did he have a cat? We don’t know, but certainly London was plagued with rats. It was very unhealthy.”
Packer said the ECHO Players’ version is very traditional in the sense that there’s a good fairy and an evil queen rat.
“Every story is different. Every story told is slightly different to the one that follows it or the one that precedes it.”
The play starts out, Packer said, with the evil Queen Rat who is trying to stop the pantomime from happening since she doesn’t want to pull a coach for Cinderella again. Packer said the Good Fairy tells the evil Queen Rat that there will be a pantomime, but this time it will be Dick Whittington.
“And Dick Whittington comes down the aisle singing a song and he comes onto the stage and they do Dick Whittington instead,” Packer said.
Each night there will also be a celebrity guest such as local public figures, Packer said.
“They come up and they do a skit with us about the history of laughter because the play emphasizes to be successful, you have to be on time, be polite and always try your best,” Packer said.
“So out comes the celebrity and says, I agree with all of those but there’s one more thing you’ve got to do and that is have fun while you work.”
Packer said then the celebrity guest gives a little lecture on humour.
Dick Whittington opens Dec. 14 and runs until Dec. 31 at the Village Theatre (110 W. Second Ave., Qualicum Beach). For tickets and times, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-752-3522.