In true pantomime fashion the show was filled with an entertaining cast that provided a wide array of songs, dance, jokes & slapstick comedy that was suitable for the whole family. If you have never been to a pantomime before then a 'panto' is often based around a well known story or fairytale. They are high energy, lots of fun and have you giggling from start to finish and The Wizard of Oz certainly ticked all the pantomime boxes!
We have been to many productions in the past which have been based on Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Aladdin, but this was the first time we had a seen a Wizard of Oz pantomime. It was therefore great to see something different, in what was also a beautiful venue. The Stockport Plaza is a stunning example of art deco architecture and it was certainly a pleasure to watch the show in such lovely surroundings.
The show began with a lovely solo piece sung by Fiyero (Richard Hazlewood) which was a nice introduction to the show. This was soon followed by some catchy upbeat songs with matching choreography, that got the audience clapping & dancing along straight away. The supporting dancers & ensemble were brilliant and it was lovely to see children of all ages having the opportunity to perform on stage.
Once the initial performances were over the story began and we started to learn a little more about Dorothy and her family. The show featured a mixture of well known modern tunes along with popular classics such as Somewhere Over the Rainbow and it wasn't long before Dorothy (and her little dog too) were transported to the wonderful world of Oz. One by one we were introduced to Glinda the Good Witch, Eva the Wicked Witch of the West, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.
The show continued to follow the story of Dorothy on her quest to return home to Kansas whilst her new found friends helped her along the way. The audience shouted in delight as regular panto phrases became a necessity with shouts of "It's behind you" and "Booooo" whenever the Wicked Witch appeared on stage. The Wicked Witch was being played by Cheryl Fergison who is best known as "Heather Trott" from Eastenders. She was fantastic in the role with a wonderful stage presence that immediately commanded your attention. It was great to see her as a baddie in comparison to the gentle mild mannered character that she played in the popular soap. There were a few Eastenders jokes thrown into the mix which gave the adults a giggle and it was great that humour for the whole family remained throughout the production.
Once Dorothy and her friends had finally reached the great Wizard of Oz they were given the task of recovering the witches broom. This saw the group embark on another journey through the scary forest and we particularly enjoyed Philip Shaun McGuinness in the role of the Tin Man. My children thought he was brilliant and loved his costume too! David Heath as the Scarecrow was also wonderful and Si Foster as The Cowardly Lion supplied plenty of laughs.
Our favourite part of the show was when Dorothy's friends performed an hilarious song together. I don't want to reveal too much, but this part was so funny and had both children and adults laughing out loud . It was really well arranged and Glinda (Olivia Sloyan), the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow were absolutely superb.
Once Dorothy and her friends had battled evil and recovered the broom, they returned to the Wizard of Oz where they learnt that each of them had already possessed what they had seeked. The Lion had already exhibited great courage, the Tin Man had already shown that he had a kind heart and The Scarecrow clearly had a brain. Unfortunately the great wizard was unable to help Dorothy, but Glinda the good witch was soon on hand with a bit of advice. With the help of the ruby slippers, Dorothy learnt that she could return home.
Before the show ended we were treated to a good old sing-a-long as well as a final rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" where Dorothy (Maddie Hope Coelho) exhibited her stunning vocal range with a breathtaking performance of the song.
Overall we had an absolutely brilliant time at The Wizard of Oz which has been produced by Chantelle Nolan and Jane Joseph for Regal Entertainments Ltd. The cast were fantastic and the show featured some excellent choreography, wonderful singing and laugh out loud comedy from start to finish. The scenery and costumes were an accurate representation of the original story and both the cast and creative team behind the production should be very proud of achieving such a wonderful family pantomime. A special mention also has to be given to Buddy the dog starring as Toto, who was great on stage and completely unfazed by the bright lights and cheering audience. Well done to all involved!
Tickets are still available for the show which is running until Saturday 12th August 2017.
Regal Entertainments presents The Wizard of Oz
Venue: Stockport Plaza Theatre, Mersey Square, Stockport, SK1 1SP.
Dates: Monday 7th August 2017 to Saturday 12th August 2017
Times: 1pm & 5pm
Tickets: Available from £13 (Groups 20+ from £12) *subject to booking fee.
Box Office: 0161 477 7779
Please visit the website for the most up to date ticket information and availability at: www.stockportplaza.co.uk
Disclaimer: We attended the press night on a complimentary basis for the purpose of providing an honest review of the show. Opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.