The folktale was first performed as a PANTOMIME. The characters were richly costumed and acted without a set script. Music was played in true Renaissance fashion to accompany the exaggerated gestures and broad physical comedy of the stock characters. The audience was expected to understand the motivation and attitudes of the well-known characters such as the buffoon or fool or clown, the vice or devil, the Do-Well, or Do-Better, or Do-Best characters, the Everyman, and Death. In the story, the Protagonist (Dick) has interactions and experiences with forms of each of these stock characters. Later, in the early 19th Century, the story of "Dick Whittington and His Cat" was written into an illustrated storybook for children. By then the characters were refined to reflect a simple storyline about a boy who had the good sense to buy a cat to get rid of the mice problems he encountered along his way. This clever cat ultimately brought Dick good fortune when it rid the king of a faraway land of his mice problem.
When deciding how to write songs to fit this story, I decided that the music really fit in the Renaissance style period. I also wanted to introduce the characters as they would have been introduced in a Pantomime, with broad stokes using authentic Renaissance musical devices and instrument sounds. And since the story is to be performed by children, I decided to include plenty of little mice. They even get their own little scurry song -- in a happy mood before they encounter the cat and in an agitated mood as they are running from the cat. Then, the refrain from the first song is reprised for the finale.
"Dick Whittington and His Cat" is a wonderful story that has fun theatrical elements and interesting historical context.
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The Songs and Script are now available for this little 10-15 Classroom Musical.