Regal Entertainments’ have managed to pull off another cracking Easter panto.
My little munchkins and I followed the yellow brick road (well the M62) to St Helens Theatre Royal for the opening night of the Wizard of Oz.
This wizardly wonderful features a star-studded cast with none other than former page three stunner and Emmerdale actress Linda Lusardi who opens the show as the glitteringly Wicked Witch looking fabulous at sixty and bringing a real dash of fun and glamour to the role.
Equally dazzling is her daughter Lucy who recently appeared on ITV’s The Voice and is the spitting image of her mum. Playing the good fairy Glinda, Lucy was quite captivating to watch with her grace and beauty and my little girl was enchanted by her sparkly frock. She had a lovely voice too – Tom Jones must have taught her a few vocal tricks!
Rising young star Mia Molloy steps into the famous ruby slippers as Dorothy. The Liverpool Theatre graduate who has starred in lots of local productions makes a lovely earnest Dorothy with her adorable little (real) dog Toto played by Buddy the Jack Russell/Chihuahua/Yorkshire Terrier cross.
When a tornado rips through Kansas, Dorothy and Toto are whisked away in their little wooden house to the magical land of Oz. They set off to see the Wizard, following the infamous yellow brick road to the Emerald City.
En route, they meet the scarecrow who expresses a wish to expand his grey matter, a very rusty Tin Man who needs a heart and a little loosening up, and a cowardly courage-seeking lion.
Reece Sibbald is superbly silly as the scatty scarecrow and a real favourite with the kids with his slapstick antics, falling off the stage, daft jokes and clowning around.
Harry Moore returns to St Helens Theatre Royal stage and puts in a robust performance as the Tin Man while Steve Arnott is so loveable as the cuddly lion who is failing at being fierce – altogether now ‘pud ‘em up, pud ‘em up…’
Dorothy, Toto and their three new friends ‘Ease on Down the Road’ in search of the Wizard who they believe will make their dreams come true.
There they meet the great Wizard of Oz played by Jay Lusted, who played one of the seven dwarfs in 2017’s Christmas panto Snow White, and challenges them to bring him the Wicked Witch’s broomstick to earn his help.
The friends tackle the wrath of the Wicked Witch of the West head-on, discovering that they always did have a brain, heart, and courage and that there really is “no place like home.”
The team at Regal Entertainments have the recipe for success when it comes to panto, and always stir in all the right ingredients – a classic family tale brought to life with a hearty dollop of fun and silliness, a spoonful of boos and hisses, a saucy pinch of innuendo and a sprinkle of sparkle.
There is dancing in the aisles, audience participation and laughs aplenty, especially when the witch accidentally whacked the scarecrow in the ghoulies with her broom and the cast got the giggles…
My son particularly enjoyed the Avengers scene, meanwhile, my daughter loved Toto who was so well behaved, even when he got his lead wrapped round his leg – a total pro! And she got to meet Dorothy at the end and show her the ruby slippers she wore for the occasion!
A special mention goes to the talented young dancers who are full of smiles and never put a foot wrong.
The panto runs until Monday, 22nd April, so click your heels and prepare to be whisked over the rainbow for a magical adventure – where your troubles will truly melt like lemon drops.
Tickets: from £13. For more information, please visit: www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com