REVIEW: Wonderful Wizard of Oz full of heart at Peterborough’s Cresset

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, panto at the Cresset. Steve Arnold, as the Straw Man, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, as Dorothy, Lawrence Stubbings, the Tin Man and  Zach Vanderfelt as the Cowardly Lion. EMN-151017-193041009
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, panto at the Cresset. Steve Arnold, as the Straw Man, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, as Dorothy, Lawrence Stubbings, the Tin Man and Zach Vanderfelt as the Cowardly Lion. EMN-151017-193041009
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It was quite fitting that former Corrie star Steven Arnold was the big name in this year’s Cresset panto, because The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was right up my Street.

He might not be the most natural dancer or singer but there was no faulting the entertainment value of the veteran of the Weatherfield cobbles or his commitment to the cause - doing more than his fair share of making the audience feel part of the performance, and there was plenty of it from the first scene to the last.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, panto at the Cresset. Steve Arnold, as the Straw Man, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, as Dorothy, Lawrence Stubbings, the Tin Man and  Zach Vanderfelt as the Cowardly Lion. EMN-151017-192818009

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, panto at the Cresset. Steve Arnold, as the Straw Man, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, as Dorothy, Lawrence Stubbings, the Tin Man and Zach Vanderfelt as the Cowardly Lion. EMN-151017-192818009

His wobbly legged, brainless Scarecrow (not sure where the accent came from in America but he never let it drop) was nicely pitted with the heartless Tinman (Lawrence Stubbings) and my favourite the lovable cowardly Lion (brilliantly played by last year’s dame Zach Vanderfelt).

They certainly gave 100 per cent - and provided a few laughs- in their quest for a brain, a heart and some courage as they travelled along the Yellow Brick Road.

A break from tradition there was no dame this year, so no real quickfire gags along the way - certainly no adult-themed ones - just two hours of child-friendly fun that was truly appreciated by the mainly primary school age audience on Monday.

And the audience were treated to a wonderful performance from the talented Lucy-Jane Quinlan as the instantly likable Dorothy, sweet but not sickeningly so, who once again showed she has a beautiful singing voice.

Sylvia Carson made for an utterly charming Good Witch of the North, and I just loved Linda Clark as the Wicked Witch of the West with a maniacal laugh and a great presence to drum up the boos and hisses. And fair play to Peter McCrohon who was everywhere - ultimately the fraudulent Wizard himself with quite a voice.

It was nicely staged with simple but colourful and effective backdrops - and a hilarious animated scene on screen of the tornado in Kansas that swallowed up Aunt Em’s house, Dorothy, some farmyard animals as well as hippo and some zebras if I am not mistaken!!.And I have never seen a cast spend so much time in the audience - who absolutely lapped it up.

Plenty of stage time too for the talented bunch of youngsters who danced their hearts out and deserved all the applause they got.

See The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at The Cresset until December 30. Contact the box office on 01733 265705