Review: Wizard of Oz is just wonderful
Strictly Come Dancing favourite Katya Jones waltzed into Peterborough at the weekend and immediately danced her way into the New Theatre audience’s hearts.
As Glinda the Good Witch, in a sparkling dress with a smile to match it, she cha-cha-cha-rmed the auditorium from the moment she walked out on stage to introduce The Wizard of Oz.
A bundle of energy with a real presence she lit up the stage every time she appeared - and showed no signs of first night (afternoon actually) nerves in her debut panto performance.
The band played a few bars of the unmistakable Strictly theme tune as a reminder, there was the odd joke at Craig Revel Horwood’s expense and Katya moved across the stage with the elegance and style you might expect from the 2017 show champion.
Her “dance off” with the Wicked Witch - containing some of her now iconic moves from recent series - was, as Craig might say, mar-ve-lous.
If you know your Strictly you will love it. If you don’t you will still love it. It was that good.
The singing and dancing didn’t stop with Katya, however. This was a real musical extravaganza of a panto that just clicked into gear from minute one and never let up.
The song choices were spot on - from Footloose (a great opening to get the audience going), to Queen and The Greatest Showman; the choreography was slick and energetic; the set, lighting, costumes, music just right.
And the cast were brilliant.
Leah Pinney was a likeable and wholesome Dorothy - A Million Dreams and Over The Rainbow were terrific.
Livewire Samuel Freeman was excellent as the wisecracking Scarecrow with a never-ending collection of jokes, including some panto gems, and he was well matched with Ben Brooker, a tap dancing Tinman, and Thomas Cove, a convincingly cowardly Lion.
Those three - and Dorothy - had a real chemistry. Everything seemed really natural, never forced.
I particularly liked the Munchkin scene - ingenious. And the “If I was a...” sketch was a joy to watch. Oh yes there were some standard panto filler moments in there - the sing-a-long, water guns, ghost gag - but they all worked perfectly.
And if you like to boo the villain of the piece, you will love Shane Convery who was outstanding as the Wicked Witch with some wonderfully delivered put-downs.
The ensemble knitted everything together nicely and were well supported by the talented juniors from Peterborough’s Tu Danse Studios.
The show should come with a health warning though; grinning from ear to ear for two hours puts a strain on your face muscles!
So if you fancy some festive frolics why not take a few quicksteps and fox-trot down to the New Theatre on Broadway to tan-go and see The Wizard of Oz.
It runs until December 31. Tickets at www.newtheatre-peterborough.com
If you are thinking of going to the Key Theatre panto Beauty and the Beast read the REVIEW
If you are thinking of going to see The Cresset panto Cinderella read the REVIEW