…just off the ‘yellow brick’ A21, lies Pratts Bottom where, over four performances of their annual pantomime on the last week of January, the local dramatic society wowed packed houses in the village hall.
With a cast of over 30, ranging from their ageless ‘veterans’ to a troupe of nimble young dancers (not to mention Toto the dog who wisely chose to remain in his basket rather than risk being trampled underfoot on a stage awash with Munchkins, monkeys and witchcraft), PBDS yet again demonstrated their versatility in every department of the ‘Wizard of Oz’.
The pace of the production was electric throughout – literally as well as metaphorically. A gantry of lights which would have complemented many theatres never mind a village hall, together with soundtracks for the songs and microphones for the main characters, all combined with imaginative set designs to bring an almost ‘son et lumiere’ effect to the whole production. Add to this a live band, sparkling costumes, colourful choreography, cracking pace and continuity and you had the perfect recipe for a glorious show to celebrate the New Year and a welcome relaxation of Covid restrictions.
As the technical backup more than complemented the performance, so the cast rose to the occasion, demonstrating a real sense of teamwork. Perhaps no better example of this was in the performances of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion whose individual characters were also a delight. Glinda and her arch-rival The Wicked Witch of the West respectively urged the audience to show their feelings in time-honoured panto tradition as did the confused Riff Raff. While Englebert towered impressively over his tiny Munchkins, Rita the Robot’s contortions and disembodied voice added to the hilarity. Within the surreal world of Oz, young Kaydie Raison’s Dorothy steered a confident and assured performance.
Congratulations to PBDS who not only overcame the challenge of working with children and animals but also weathered the Covid storm and re-discovered the way forward when faced with closure earlier last year. Somewhere over the rainbow indeed…