THE NEWS today… Big Wind coming to Hedon… Emerald City in Oz stops glowing… “Strictly Come Witching” seeks contestants… “Woof, wooof, wuf, woof” (App designer wanted)… The secret power of the ruby slippers…
REVIEW: Witches of Oz – Hedon Pantomime 2015.
It’s all a bit strange in the merry old world of Oz created by Peter Nuttall and interpreted by Hedon Drama Group director Cat Jordan. Oz itself seems to be more ‘down-under’ than ‘over the rainbow’. And that rainbow song – you know the one sung by Judy Garland in the famous film – it barely gets a mention, although Dorothy does her very, very, very best to make sure it ‘barely gets a mention’ lots of times!
The famous characters in Hedon’s Oz-world are similar to those you would expect in a Wizard of Oz spin-off, although Howard-Lee Lyon (say the name out loud) is looking for something other than courage! And Toto the likeable dog, talks! Yes – a talking dog, although when not in Oz you’d need an App to understand her. Apps are not the only reference to the internet in this Panto for the 21st century – we all know that ‘www’ stands for Wicked Witch of the West don’t we! Another modern reference was the discovery that Simon Growl of the Tin Man’s Axe-Factor fame is really the host of ‘Strictly Come Witching’.
The Witches of Oz are undoubtedly the stars of the show and why the pantomime is named such. Dave Jordan as the not-so-wicked witch, Momby, plays the Dame role again in a Hedon panto with his usual aplomb. He obviously enjoys the live banter with the audience and improvising to whatever happens; you almost wish something unexpected would happen to see how he’d react. But witch of the night must go to Lesley Thomas as Edna the Wicked Witch of the West. From the moment of her first cackle to her last melting-moments – you just want to kill her! Not because she’s the baddie to boo, but because she’s perfected the most irritatingly horrible, funny voice that surely any wicked witch would die for! Some real belly laughs here as she plays the part to great effect.
Whilst ‘that song’ didn’t get mentioned a few times, the one that expressed the characters wish to escape from Oz must be: The cast version of “We’ve Gotta Get Out of this Place” was just fantastic and left you wanting more songs!
The scene changes deserve some credit too. Cleverly using swing-over cloths on the back-flats, and reversible set-pieces the action swung from scene-to-scene – and with just enough light for the audience to see what was going on, the scene changes were actually interesting to watch and simply effective. A small child said loudly to his mum during one “Look at that big tablecloth!” which got a laugh from the audience.
The expected audience-participation act at the end of the show didn’t materialise (although there’s a nice dog sale involving the children earlier in the show). So those adults shy of being dragged up to dance/perform for the sake of a laugh breathed a sigh of relief.
Well done once again to the cast and crew of Hedon Drama Group! It’s definitely worth a visit to Oz at the Alexandra Hall tonight and tomorrow night (23rd and 24th January 2015) starting at 7:30pm, with a Saturday Matinee at 2:30pm).