Despite it being the first day in December, pantomime season is well and truly in its groove. Eastwood Park Theatre in Giffnock have hit the ground running with the well-oiled machine that is The Wizard of Oz.
Largely a re-telling of the L. Frank Baum tale, it does take a few diversions off of the yellow brick road, (there’s a magic microphone involved) but it is very much a traditional family panto with wide appeal. The double-entendres are at a minimum and there’s enough slapstick for the little ones, TikTok dances and familiar chart hits for the teens and political jokes for the grown-ups.
It all starts with a bang, when we are treated to a rip-roaring version of Proud Mary in the first five minutes: the fine-voiced cast have their first of many chances to shine. With the interest levels up, the audience is carried along on a wave of energy.
To their absolute credit, there isn’t a weak link anywhere in the compact cast and there’s a palpable chemistry between Dorothy’s three chums: Jamie Lemetti (Scarecrow), Alan Mirren (Tin Man) and Liam Webster (Lion) who have an ease and fine timing with each other that ensures each joke lands its punchline. Stand out among the cast is the engaging Garry King who manages to deliver an eye-watering number of roles with a glint in his eye and a spring in his step, getting the audience firmly onside from the get-go. The dancers are well-drilled, and the choreography is sufficiently diverse to keep the interest up. For those wondering, yes, there are Munchkins, many, many, Munchkins, played by members of local dance and drama organisations. The Wicked Witch is sufficiently over-the-top camp and Stephen McLaughlin who plays her, has a powerful but soulful voice which he utilises to great effect here as does Kate Richards as the Good Witch (and Aunt Em).
If it’s bang for your buck you are looking for then you need look no further than Eastwood Park. At almost two and a half hours long, the show is packed with content, delivered by an enormously talented cast, everyone giving their all no matter what their role.
Eastwood Park is an exemplary theatre: great programming; a theatre with excellent sight lines; accessible; friendly, helpful staff and family affordable tickets – what more could you want?
Runs until 30 December 2022 – Tickets here