‘The Wizard of Oz – A Pantomime’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by November 28, 2014

‘The Wizard of Oz – A Pantomime’ is a quality, traditional British pantomime from Limelight Scripts UK. It has all of the essentials of a pantomime, colour, singing, dancing, visual comedy, and audience participation.

This 140-minute spectacle can be seen at the Old Mill Theatre, Corner Mends Street and Mill Point Road, South Perth, with performances each night at 7.30 (not as some adverts say ‘8.00’) until Saturday 13th December  7.30 pm.

 

        When a typhoon passes through Kansas, Aunt Em’s house is hurtled through the air and lands on an evil witch, killing her. Her sister, Olga (Craig Menner), the ugly, wicked Witch of the East decides to take revenge on Aunt Em (Trish Theisinger), young Dorothy (Arianne Westcott-King), and their scruffy dog, Toto (Harrison Wake). However, Olga notices that Dorothy has bright ruby-red slippers with magical properties and is determined to have them.

        Dorothy was getting very worried about Olga’s threat, when Glinda (Nicole Miller) the good Fairy of the West arrives with her hapless friend, Letitia (Trevor Dhu). Glinda explains that Dorothy should travel to the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz and seek his help – just follow the yellow brick road. So, guided by the gatekeeper (Rex Gray), Dorothy set off in search of the Wizard with a group of delightful, little people – the Munchkins.

        On her way, Dorothy met a scarecrow (Tim Prosser) leaning on a fence, he had a beautiful singing voice, but no brain. Next, she met a very timid lion (Neil Cartmell), who desperately needed some courage, and finally she met a Tinman (Sarah Christiner), who would love to have a heart. Farther down the road, Dorothy was surprised to meet a famous pop singer, a King from the 70s (a totally unrecognisable Ted Bull). Olga’s mischievous helpers, the wild monkeys, attack the party. Even if the group survives this, there is still the Wizard’s obstinate Chamberlain (Matthew Styles) to get past.

 

The children, aged from 5 to 14, played the loveable, happy Munchkins and the diabolical, trouble-making Monkeys. The children were magnificent, the Munchkins smiled constantly as they performed, danced in perfect sync and sang with gusto. Their costumes (as for all the others, were designed by Jenny Prosser, Susan Sator, Maree Grayden) were delightful. The Monkeys, with their threatening baboon like faces, glowered and snarled as they leapt around doing cartwheel. Their makeup (designed by Nicolle Miller, and Lisa Piggott) was most impressive, and considering the number of youngsters involved a huge amount of work. Jenny Prosser made most of the costumes. The Tinman’s costume really rattled and clanged as he walked – poor Sarah must have suffered inside, but it was worth it.

Once again, the sets needed that extra sparkle and with Maree Grayden, Ben Davis and Phil Barnett’s input Tim Prosser has done another sterling job with artworks for his set painting.

The Old Mill has some several LED lights that gives a new dimension to the scenery and the atmosphere. Ben and Flynn Vincent operated Ben Davis’ complex lighting design. Flynn is new to the bio box, so on the preview there were a couple of slow light changes, but considering the complexity of the show, I was most impressed and am sure he will be ‘spot’ on for the opening. Bree Vreedenburgh’s sound design required one or two unusual snippets, but this went well with crisp control by Jeremy Skinner.

As musical director, Bree Vreedenburgh had a huge amount of singing and dancing to cope with but the whole team worked very well.

The Munchkins were:- Sienna Birkett, Abbey Breust, Charlotte Broadbent, Caiden Cartmell, Kian Cartmell, Indigo Ellis, Anna Grayden, Hannah Harrison, Tahlia Menner, Grace Pooley, Atira Shack, Brooke Skinner, Naomi Skinner, Adele Stewart.

The evil Monkeys were:- Alexander Broadbent, Hannah Claux, Ryan Drummond, Megan Grayden, Madeline Hooker, Matthew Hutchinson, Kasey Pavlovich, Digby Petit, William Sartor, Aaron Skinner, Georgia Weston-Arnold.

Director Maree Grayden and her assistant Kylie Bywater’s can be most proud of this pantomime; it has all of the magical elements with some wonderful performances from the main characters.

Thoroughly enjoyable, children of all ages will love it – oh no they won’t – oh yes they WILL!