One of our Christmas Traditions (since Ella could sit for long enough) we have included the Panto and we always look forward to it.
As part of the family friendly company I work for they offer the staff and their families an annual trip to the panto – so this year about 200 or so us headed to The University of Bolton Stadium (home of Bolton Wanderers) so see the Octagon Theatre presentation of The Wizard of Oz. (The Octagon Theatre in Bolton is currently undergoing a redevelopment project hence hosting at the stadium).
Now before I start I must point out that it wasn’t a panto in the traditional style of “he’s behind you” and bright clothing. It was more a modern day adaptation of the traditional, much loved film. A theatre production is probably a better description
It started with Dorothy, from Bolton, in her school uniform whinging to her aunt and uncle about, well what teenage girls whinge about, life not being fair and needing a pair of really expensive red trainers. Dorothy is played by the youthful Anne O’Riordan who leads the cast brilliantly and her Irish accent comes through in her singing which is just gorgeous
The story then follows Dorothy and in a land inhabited by witches, munchkins, flying monkeys and a group of strangers who become her companions on her journey to see the Great Wizard of Oz (formally from Wigan). The Scarecrow, Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion, Dorothy’s new friends, finish off the main cast and they are joined by a team of young performers throughout.
The set is simple, the cast small but it was a brilliant performance. The Wizard of Oz is based in modern day North of England with many references to the area. There was no yellow brick road, no sparkly red shoes but the replacements to these key parts of the story kept it quirky and cool.
We thoroughly enjoyed it and Ella loved that the cast ran up and down the aisles at any given chance, high fiving and engaging with the audience.
A panto in the traditional sense it is not, and a lot of the much younger children only made it to the interval but for the slightly older children (I would say 6-7 upwards) they had a great time.
The Wizard of Oz runs until the 31st December (afternoon performance only).
Tickets: £16 – £24
Adult concessions: £2 off
Children: £3 off
If you love local theatre then give it a try.