The Pure Amazing Wiz of Oz
- Lorna Irvine
- 13 December 2019
An absolute delight of a Glasgow West End panto
To paraphrase Lizzo (from 'Juice', one of hits covered tonight) Paul Harper-Swan's pantos are like Chardonnay and just get better over time. While other, bigger budget pantomimes can sometimes be quite patronising to their core audiences, Webster's is pitched just right – it's camp and cheeky, yet with enough reverence for the art form.
This tornado spin on The Wizard of Oz may have a small cast of five, but there's a winning heart and ebullience which never lets up. Here Dorothy is Dotty (a sweet but smart Claire Hubsmith) a plucky lassie fae Partick who's trying to find herself. Tin Wuman (Melissa Davie) gets a fabulously catty cover of Sia's 'Titanium' (and what a gorgeous singing voice). Alessandro Sanguigni is lovably goofy as Scarecrow, while Lee Reynolds brings comic chops to Lioness.
Presiding over the diva anthems to empowerment – and striking terror into the handsome men in the audience as he jumps on them – is the irrepressible Neil Thomas as the Wicked Witch of the West End, whose barbs are as bad as her bite. She ad-libs and belts out numbers flawlessly, and is just an eye-roll away from evil: naughty, but never too scary for the wee ones.
It's all hugely great fun, and each cast member gets a chance to twinkle, as does Harper-Swan's gallus and clever script. But who is the mysterious, titular man behind the curtain? Nae spoilers here …
Websters Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 4 Jan.