DICK Whittington will be the third panto Rik Gaffney has directed for Urmston Musical Theatre.

He, the choreographer. Emma Harris (Rik’s sister) and the musical director, Ed Nurse,are determined it will be the best ever.

“I have insisted that the standard of acting is much higher than usual. I have requested my cast to sing much more complicated notes and Emma has worked hard with the chorus.”

Rik and Emma aren’t the only family members to be involved. Helen Halfpenny, who plays the traditional fairy, is the mother of Mia, 10, who is a truly feline cat.

The person who plays Idle Jack has the opposite approach.

“He doesn’t want his family to know he has the part until they see him,” said Rik.

“He has never done anything like this before.”

His sidekick is Adam Garnett as Sarah the cook.

The real stars are Olivia Barratt as Dick and Olivia Callaghan as his love, Alice Fitzwarren.

Rik said: “They sing duets and solos and they sound fantastic.

“The audience will sympathise with Dick when she is accused of stealing from Alderman Fitzwarren.”

Since Rik is also the society’s stage manager, he has designed a boat in Act II in which Dick travels from London to Morocco.

The villain is the appropriately named Ian Darke who plays evil King Rat

“Everyone will boo him. From a director’s view, if he can scare the children, he is doing a good job.”

* ick Whittington is at Urmston Leisure Centre from February 14 – 17 at 7.30pm and February 18 at noon and 4pm.For tickets see umt.org.uk or telephone 0161 408 1288 (answer phone)