"Whittington" is not a pantomime, though
it does include elements of the panto story.
It was written as a result of a request
for a work suitable for a largish junior
school where all ages could take part and
where rehearsal and preparation would not
be too demanding.
The Richard Whittington of real life is
not much like the "Dick" of popular pantomime.
Born around 1358, the son of Sir William
Whittington a Gloucestershire land-owner,
he was not particularly poor and was apprenticed
to the Mercer's Company of London.
Membership of this exclusive body meant
that he could trade in valuable cloth such
as silk and velvet. He supplied great quantities
of luxury fabrics to the Royal Wardrobe
and lent considerable sums of money to King
Richard II and Henry IV, often letting the
debt slip by, thus ensuring powerful royal
support and patronage.
He made a great deal of money from the
export of wool, and gave much to charity.
He was actually Mayor of London four times.
(The title "Lord Mayor" was not used in
his time.) He married Alice, daughter of
Sir Ivor Fitzwaryn of Dorset, and died in
The legend of Dick Whittington, his cat
and Bow Bells, has grown over the years,
and as it makes such a lovely story, we
just could not resist including some of
it in our "true story". After all, Richard
almost certainly had a pet cat (most did
in those days), he married an Alice, and
he would certainly have heard Bow Bells
as London was very small at that time. (You
could walk across it in twenty minutes!)
This musical play was written for a school
situation in which a number of classes of
different ages and abilities were required
to take part in a joint performance. It
is divided into scenes and sections which
can be rehearsed separately and then brought
together into a final production with the
minimum of joint rehearsal. There are opportunities
for a number of short solo performances,
though these items are equally effective
when sung by a chorus. The work could of
course be performed by any size of young
theatre company or school group, though
it does require quite a large cast for full
It has four solo songs, eight choruses,
three duets, two solos with chorus, plus
incidental music, dance music and dialogue.