Review: St George’s Theatre pantomime The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is delighting audiences at St George's Theatre, Great Yarmouth Picture: James Goffi

The Wizard of Oz is delighting audiences at St George's Theatre, Great Yarmouth Picture: James Goffin - Credit: James Goffin

The St George’s Theatre panto hit the stage like the tornado that whisked Dorothy and Toto off their feet and onto the yellow brick road.

In a brisk and breezy confection of comedy, song, and dance, the theatre’s pacey production of the Wizard of Oz cast a winning spell over the opening night audience in Great Yarmouth.

A professional cast, supported by some talented youngsters from NABJAB Dance and Performing Arts, transformed the 1939 MGM fantasy film into a thoroughly British panto, with lots of boos for the Wicked Witch of the West, some slapstick for the kids, and jokes to keep the grown-ups engaged.

Emma Riches was a thoroughly charming Dorothy who never quite got to sing Over the Rainbow but performed a whole host of other numbers with bags of gusto. Providing the humorous heavy lifting were Charlie Randall as the Tin Man, Harry Williams as the Scarecrow and Rik Warren as the Lion, all of them demonstrating clinical comic timing and a wonderful connection with the audience.

Liz Garland revelled in the role of the Wicked Witch, encouraging the boos, belting out the songs, and bossing her dim sidekick Coco the flying monkey. Coco and Dorothy’s dog Toto were created by Matt Reeve of the Norwich Puppet Theatre and were a sparky addition to proceedings.

Shane Armstrong was a big presence on stage in the dual roles of good witch Glinda and Dorothy’s Auntie Em.

Like all good panto dames, he was larger than life and hugely funny, particularly in the scene where he found himself playing the good witch and Auntie Em at the same time.

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It’s always rewarding to see young home-grown talent gaining valuable experience in quality productions like this one.

The dancers and the youngsters playing the Munchkins performed with great energy and enthusiasm and nine-year-old Danny Gooda, tackled the role of the bombastic boss of the Emerald City with admirable aplomb.

All the performers can thank a thoroughly entertaining script from Nick Earnshaw and dynamic direction from Rik Warren.

The Wizard of Oz is showing at St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth, every day except Christmas Day until December 30.

Details at Scott