The Pure Amazing Wiz of Oz review by Fionnuala Boyle
Like many children, when I was growing up, it wasn’t quite Christmas time without a trip to the panto. A uniquely Glaswegian experience, some might say, considering the UK-wide success of The Krankies in the 70s and 80s turning Glasgow into something of a panto hotspot when the holiday season rolled around. My experience of panto was always Gerard Kelly as Buttons and Elaine C Smith as the fairy godmother at the King’s Theatre. ‘Hiya pal!’ Kelly would shout at us all, and a pal is truly what he felt to many in the audience. Since that panto era came to an end, I have been to a few more, and enjoyed them for the same sense of familiarity and festive joy that they bring.
But this week I went along to Webster’s Theatre with my sister, friend and her daughter (4) and son (3). With the smell of incense pervading the church-like interiors and a roaring fire in the centre of the room you feel more like you’re stepping into a family living room rather than a bar, Webster’s is the perfect venue for a theatre or panto outing. The panto we saw was The Pure Amazing Wiz of Oz. A quirky Glaswegian take on the classic film, the show followed all major plot twists but featured a few differences making it specific to the dear green place.
The witches the Wicked Witch of the West End and the Wicked Witch of the East End, and Kansas was swapped for Poor Partick Panto Land, with many other colloquialisms and local references thrown in to entertain us. From start to finish, the adults laughed, and the kids laughed even harder. The musical numbers were spot on, introducing this year’s best pop hits into the narrative so the audience could sing and dance along. The staple panto villain kept all the older members of the crowd highly entertained, with a few innuendos added in for good comedic measure.
Although a panto at Webster’s could be considered an alternative to those taking place at venues such as the Pavilion or the King’s which are infamous for their annual pantos, The Wiz of Oz had the same charm, wit, humour and Glesgae Banter that you would expect elsewhere. In fact, with a member of staff asking families upon entry if they would like their children’s names read out at the end of the show, and the show itself taking place in such an intimate setting, it made the experience even more special for everyone involved. With such a talented cast and a high energy performance that kept Christmas at the heart of the story, it was a truly fantastic way to kick-start the festivities.
The Pure Amazing Wiz of Oz runs until Saturday 4 January, 2020.
Websters Theatre, 416 Great Western Road, Glasgow G4 9HZ
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