by Laura Hughes
It’s Panto season (oh, yes it is!), and what better way to spend your evening than in the magical land of Oz?
The curtain went up on Act One’s production of The Yellow Brick Road in early December, set in the dazzlingly-appropriate downstairs area of the Pulse nightclub. Audience members are told upon arrival that this pantomime is aimed exclusively at adult crowds; the reason why soon becoming apparent.
Co-written and directed by law students, Jasmine Mahesan and Joe Lloyd-Perks, The Yellow Brick Road sees Dorothy (Morna Muzawazi) embark on a journey to meet the wonderful Wizard of Oz (Maisie Granger), meeting and helping friends Scarecrow (Zachary Brown), Tin Man (James Holland) and Lion (Lucie Rhiannon Williams) along the way, and not to mention along with Dorothy’s four-legged teddy companion Toto (‘he seems… sprightly’).
With 18+ humour, it was difficult not to enjoy the plethora of sexual innuendos, double entendre, and adult jokes packed into the script (‘so many dick jokes in one scene’), with my personal favourites being the comically adapted lyrics to classic Wizard of Oz songs.
Both witches, good (Kyle Okane) and evil (Mimi Brown) gave wonderfully hilarious performances and won countless laughs with their natural chemistry, along with their respective munchkins (Hannah Walker and Honor Letts), and flying monkeys (Meg Shergold and Cleo Widdicombe). In addition, as evil as she is, the Wicked Witch’s fantastic vocal talent can’t go unnoticed.
Now it really wouldn’t be a proper Panto without audience participation. With competitions such as the fastest audience member to down their drink, and who has the evillest laugh, nobody felt safe in their seat, as the risk of getting pulled up on stage was far too great. An Oz adaptation of ‘If I Were Not Upon the Stage’ was also a brilliant nod to classic pantomime, and was perfectly choreographed, too.
The makeup and costumes (Miah Herford, Dominic Bramley-Car, Emma Sweetbaum) that the cast donned fit the production incredibly well, and added extra detail to make the performance even more special. The sound and lighting (Tim Winterborn, Lewis Gibbins) were both flawless, and also suited each scene well; for example, the stage scintillated with green as Dorothy arrived in the Emerald City.
The resolution to the classic tale comes with the Wizard gifting the characters what they wanted: for the Scarecrow, a Cardiff University degree for wisdom. For the Tin Man, a Love Heart sweet. For the Lion, a Peroni for bravery. Lastly, Dorothy clicks her heels three times, reciting ‘there’s no place like home’, before serenading the cast and audience with a beautiful solo as she says goodbye.
Overall, this pantomime was incredibly enjoyable, and was perfect late-weeknight entertainment for adults. At times the performance felt more like a comedy show than a Panto, which definitely isn’t a bad thing, when the jokes are so well-timed and immaculately-delivered. Credit must be given to how well each actor was cast, especially considering the on-stage chemistry between the Scarecrow and Tin Man.
Filled with naughty humour, singing and dancing, and wacky moments ranging from a twerking Scarecrow to a rapping Wizard, I know for one that I’ll definitely be attending future Act One Pantos.
A special thank you to the Act One society for inviting us to the Panto!
- Morna Muzawazi as Dorothy
- Zachary Brown as the Scarecrow
- James Holland as the Tin Man
- Lucie Rhiannon Williams as the Lion
- Kyle Okane as Glinda
- Mimi Brown as Elphaba
- Maisie Granger as Wizard
- Meg Shergold as Monkey #1
- Cleo Widdicombe as Monkey #2
- Hannah Walker as Munchkin #1
- Honor Letts as Munchkin #2
- Rhiannon Gotts – Stage Manager
- Dominic Bramley-Car – Costumes
- Emma Sweetbaum – Costumes
- Miah Herford – Hair and Makeup
- Tim Winterborn – Sound
- Lewis Gibbins – Lighting
- Francesca Manenti – Publicity
- Martha Mae Lawrence – Props
The Production Team:
- Jasmine Mahesan – Director and Writer
- Joe Lloyd Perks – Director and Writer
- Sian Howells – Production Manager
Act One will be having a variety night on February 19th.