I was first introduced to Mama G – the queen of storytelling – through my review of Petite Pantos musical production of ‘Eunice’ which was the story of a horse who did not feel comfortable with who they are. This musical helped young children to understand the idea of gender representation and LGBT issues in such a way that it is not overpowering or intense. You can read my full thoughts on this magical musical here https://rhysreviews.com/2020/12/20/eunice-musical-review/ Most recently however I attended the family pride celebration in Stanley Arts which again was an event targeted at young children to help them celebrate being themselves, you can read my review of this event at https://rhysreviews.com/2021/07/06/mama-gs-family-pride-celebration/. It is clear that Mama G and the team feel very strongly about people embracing who they are and filtering this message in such a way that even young children are able to access and understand it. It must be very difficult to create a project that children can engage with and understand while still maintaining the very important central message.
If you follow on social media (which if you don’t you should!) you will know that recently I wrote a review for A Christmas Carol at Sherman Theatre Cardiff where I talked about how important pantomime is to my family especially at Christmas time! At the pride event (which I talked about earlier) it was revealed that Petite Pantos first-ever professional production would be of “Dick Whittington” and would take place in Stanley Arts between the 15th – 28th of December. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend in person due to prior commitments so you can imagine my excitement when I was allowed to preview the book of this production online! Mama G and the team have created a wonderful picture storybook that tells the updated story of Dick Whittington. I cannot imagine anything more magical than purchasing this book to read to children until the show opens where the kids can see the show they have been read brought to life on the stage! The story of Dick Whittington has been adapted in this book to be about a person seeking refugee from a country in which being LGBT+ is not allowed. This inclusion to the story is not only a very important issue to address but also makes total sense as the money created from this book is going to the Rainbow Migration Charity who actually helps people like this in real life! To read more about this Charity you can find all their information at hIps://www.rainbowmigraBon.org.uk Not only does this book deal with LGBT related issues but also highlights the discrimination that refugees face daily.
The book is a hybrid of the live models (including Bonnie whack as Dick Whittington, Paul Andre Agagao as King Rat and Mama G herself as Sarah the Cook) who were pictured by Sarah Knight and almost cartoon-esque illustrations that were done by Katie Prichard. The last time I saw Katie she was dancing around the stage singing about her nuts while doing a wonderfully comedic burlesque routine at Mama G’s after-hours pride celebration (which you can read about at https://rhysreviews.com/2021/07/06/moma-gs-after-hours-pride-celebration/) with the pictures capture the whimsical and fun nature that panto usually creates! What I loved about this story is that all of the dialogue within the book have a wonderful rhyme scheme that makes it much for pleasing for any young children. The style of book would be perfect as a way of teaching young refugee children English due to its simplistic language use, fun images and political message!
Overall this is a fanatic storybook that brings all the fun of the pantomime to the page! Not only is it incredibly fun and simple to read but also contains a wonderfully important message at the centre of it. I would rate this storybook 4.5 stars out of 5! If you want to purchase your own copy of the storybook you can do so at hIps://www.peBtepantos.com/shop and I recommend booking tickets to Petite Pantos production of Dick Whittington at hIps://stanleyarts.org/event/dick-whiMngton-2021-12-18/all/ as if last year and this book is anything to go by it’s going to be incredible!