Church, Jeff. Dick Whittington and his Cat: a Musical Play. I.E. Clark, 1990. ISBN 0886803403. Contact publisher regarding price. 47 pp. with musical score. Reviewer: Elizabeth Moss Reading Level: Primary Rating: Shortcomings Genre: Plays; Folklore; Historical Plays; Subject: Cats--Juvenile drama; Friends--Juvenile drama; Whittington, Richard, d. 1423--Legends--Juvenile drama; Musicals; Theme: The importance of love and luck Production Requirements: Simple to moderate costumes and sets Acts: 1 Run Time: 45-60 min. Characters: 10+male, 5+female, 1 cat Cast: children and adults Time Period: England 1300s Dick Whittington, the future three-time Lord Mayor of London, is a young boy when the story starts. He is traveling to London to look for the road that is paved with gold. He starts his life in town as a beggar, but soon Mr. Fitzwarren and his young daughter, Alice, give him a home. A stranger gives Dick a lucky cat named Trueheart. Trueheart is mistakenly shipped off to sea; Dick follows him and has adventures. As a musical, this play has 11 songs. Set as a Christmas piece, there are also alternative songs and endings to make this a non-holiday play as well. The characters are not very well rounded; Dick is the most developed character. The play also has a tendency to lose its focus. At some points the play appears to be about Dick and his cat, and at others about Dick's childhood and Dick's future role as mayor of London. The sense that little children can grow up to achieve greatness is underdeveloped. The scenic design for this play is a challenge. The location changes from a country road, to inner-city London, to a home in upper class London, a dock, a ship at sea, an island, etc. Though the set can be simplified and locations merely suggested it is still an ominous task. There are also many characters. With doubling or tripling the cast can be reduced to thirteen or nine. The play also recommends the use of a live cat. Despite the challenges, there are entertaining moments in the piece. The characters are varied with everyone from beggars to pirates to islanders. It also relates to children's love of adventure, animals, and friends. Dick is a good role model, as he treasures his cat, searches the world to find him, and then gives his cat to another little child in need of a friend.
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