A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Wilton’s Music Hall – until 20th April 2024

Reviewed by Alec Legge

4****

To Wilton’s Music Hall for the first time at this venue. Wow,

it was like stepping into the past as instead of being refurbished it has been preserved in a condition reflecting it’s age with areas of brick showing bereft of plaster, wooden floors and in the bar remnants of décor on the ceiling, the bar serving many beers etc and good choices of food at reasonable prices. The auditoreum was similarly preserved and would be recognised by clients of old.

As we took our seats the members of the Flabbergast company were on stage and also amid the audience, appearing to be having an impromptu rehearsal wearing their costumes. A prime example of immersive theatre. This gave a big clue that this would not be a classic performance of a Shakespeare play!

Soon the play started and immediately the action was fast and furious the performers using there bodies in various dance like movements to enhance the dialogue. What a spectacle!

The set consisted of a haywain in the centre of the stage which the cast used both as a mini stage, a bower for Titania and Bottom and a means of disappearing from sight. The haywain also gave the nod to how in times past travelling players dragged a cart loaded with all their scenery and costumes from place to place.

The play kept in the main to the plot penned by the Bard but the performing was so lively and comic as to be far removed from the way it is normally performed. The inclusion of dance, clowning, masks and puppetry all enhanced the performance tremendously.

In all this was a fine performance enjoyed by the audience. The only negative was that occasionally the dialogue was hard to hear . There were plenty of laughs from the audience who also gave a rousing round of applause as the cast took their bow.

LOCAL HERO BELLA REAY REMEMBERED ON STAGE AT NEWCASTLE THEATRE ROYAL

LOCAL HERO BELLA REAY REMEMBERED ON STAGE AT NEWCASTLE THEATRE ROYAL

The incredible story of women’s football during WW1 will be brought to life on the Newcastle Theatre Royal stage later this month (Sat 27 & Sun 28 Apr), in a heartfelt play penned by local writer Ed Waugh, whose other works include Hadaway Harry and Carrying David.

The North East of England was the home of women’s football during World War One. Like the rest of the country, women’s football teams were formed to raise money for wounded soldiers, widows and orphans.

After men’s conscription was introduced in 1916 and over one million women entered the factories to save the war effort – hundreds of women’s football teams emerged, and thousands turned out to watch matches.

The Munitionettes Cup was unique to the North East and the top team in the region was Blyth Spartans Ladies (Northumberland dock workers), who defeated Bolckow Vaughan (a steel works from Middlesbrough) at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough, in May 1918, in front of 22,000 people.

Blyth’s hero of the team was Bella Reay, who scored 130 goals in 33 matches and was the ‘Alan Shearer’ of her day. Now her story is being brought to life on stage at Newcastle Theatre Royal.

A one-woman show, starring Catherine Dryden and directed by Russell Floyd, Wor Bella is about WW1 women’s football through the eyes of Bella and the spontaneous rise, and tragic fall, of these heroic football teams who would attract in excess of 4,000 people to their charity matches.

Chief executive of Newcastle Theatre Royal, Marianne Locatori said: “We are delighted to welcome Ed back to the theatre with Wor Bella. Following the success of Hadaway Harry a few years ago, we are proud to host another North East drama; it is wonderfully inspirational and fully deserves the accolades it has received. We are sure that our audiences will be captivated by the story, and we are proud to once again, be putting North East talent onto our stage.”

Wor Bella marks a return to Newcastle Theatre Royal for Ed Waugh, whose regional classic Hadaway Harry proved popular with audiences in 2017.

A total of 53,000 spectators attended the women’s football match on Boxing Day in 1920 and the Football Association feared women’s football would detract from men’s football which they controlled.

Supporting workers in industrial battles was seen as political and as women’s football teams raised money for destitute families during the Miners’ Strike at the time, on December 5, 1921, the FA banned women’s football.

The women’s game remained banned in England until 1971.

According to FIFA more than 29 million women and girls now play football worldwide, bringing with it the quest for greater skills, professionalism, struggles against sexism and the battle for equal pay.

Wor Bella plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Sat 27 & Sun 28 Apr. Tickets can be purchased at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.

Moby Dick Review

Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton – until Saturday 13th April then touring

Review by Amanda Allen

4****

Everyone knows Herman Melville’s 1851 story of Moby Dick, it’s been portrayed in the theatre numerous times, in many ways. This ambitious production by Simple8, adaptation by Sebastian Armesto and directed by Jesse Jones, is another telling of a simple story. The stage was set with us meeting the teacher, Ishmael, played by Mark Arends. He told us of his desire to explore the world and travel to sea. Ishmael was played with great effect and emotional depth; it was not hard to like him and at the same time feel a bit sorry for him whilst still appreciating his quiet intelligence.

At times the accents of the characters slipped, and you had to really concentrate to ensure you knew who they were meant to be, the spoken sound in general was a little quiet and I found I missed some of the narrative. Although the musical sound was loud enough the spoken word would have benefitted with a little more amplification.

The staging was interestingly done, sparse, but still a little chaotic. The use of scaffolding, planks of wood, tree trunks and fabric was excellent all working together to evoke a scene of seafaring and in particular Whaling from long ago. It was surprising how a few bits of metal, fabric and timber can be transformed with some clever lighting effects, before your eyes. Changing from a quayside to an inn, to a boat at harbour and a ship at sea.

Captain Ahab was brilliantly played by Guy Rhys, with just the right amount of fear and madness in his character. Although we all know he will lose his fight with the whale, Moby Dick, I almost hoped he would get away with it this time! The whale was brilliantly described by Ishmael, you could tell he was a teacher, he interestingly demonstrated the Whale with the ensemble using bone type outlines to animate him.

For me, Queequeg, played by Tom Swale, gave the outstanding performance. Quietly confident and obviously different to the other sailors, he evoked that air of mystery amongst the ships company, I was left wanting to know more about his life before he joined the ship.

The trend of having the musicians as part of the cast, on stage throughout the performance, worked well in this adaptation of the story. With the atmosphere of long ago sea faring evoked by the many sea shanty type tunes. I did feel that in some places the songs were padding out the show a little, a couple of the numbers didn’t seem to fit with the story line, and I felt that they were there simply to make the production longer.

At times I felt that the staging was a little too busy to appreciate the story unfolding, the actors must have been exhausted after the performance with so much climbing round, under, over and on to the various parts of the ship. But in all a very enjoyable telling of an age old tale of the struggle between man and his exploitation of the natural world

WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR ACTING FOR OTHERS’ GOLDEN BUCKET AWARDS 2024

WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR ACTING FOR OTHERS’ GOLDEN BUCKET AWARDS 2024

Theatrical charity, Acting for Others today announces the winners for the Golden Bucket Awards 2024. The ceremony took place at the Prince of Wales Theatre and was hosted by Carl Mullaney. The awards celebrate all of the supporters and fundraisers who have helped the charity raise vital funds since 2020, through bucket collections across UK theatres and a variety of events throughout the year.

Acting for Others Co-Chairman, Billy Differ, said today, “We are delighted to be hosting our first awards since 2020 to celebrate our supporters and wonderful community. Acting for Others are incredibly grateful to all of the amazing fund raisers that have enabled us to help thousands of people through our network of member charities.”

FULL LIST OF WINNERS

FABULOUS FUNDRAISING AWARD

Presented by Su Pollard

This award is for the most inventive way of fundraising for Acting for Others.

Winner: West End Charity Football Club

SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD

Presented by Tom Read Wilson

Winner: Robert Rees

FANTASTIC FRONT OF HOUSE AWARD

Presented by Alice Fearn

The generosity and dedication from the theatre management and front of house staff are invaluable. They are there for us coordinating the team and ready with the collection buckets each night.

Winner: The Gielgud Theatre. OLD FRIENDS

Special mention to the theatre management, the cast of Old Friends and Company Manager Katy Bryant.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Presented by Bonnie Langford & Lesley Joseph

Winner: Theatre Support Fund

THE GOLDEN BUCKET AWARD – REGIONAL

Presented by Raj Ghatak

This is the regional theatre that raised the most in the 2023 Theatre collections.

Winner: Chichester Festival Theatre

THE GOLDEN BUCKET AWARD – LONDON

Presented by Cassidy Janson & Christina Bianco

This is the London theatre that raised the most in the 2023 Theatre collections.

Winner: The Book of Mormon, Prince of Wales Theatre

SIX – EXTENSION OF WEST END REIGN AT THE VAUDEVILLE TO MAY 2025 PLUS ONE NIGHT ONLY POST-SHOW SIX KARAOKE (YOU HAVE A VOICE) – 6 JUNE 2024

SIX

ANNOUNCES EXTENSION OF WEST END REIGN AT THE VAUDEVILLE THEATRE TO MAY 2025

ONE NIGHT ONLY POST-SHOW KARAOKE SIX KARAOKE (YOU HAVE A VOICE) ON 6 JUNE 2024

DIVORCED, BEHEADED, LIVE! 

The Producers are thrilled to announce that the hit musical sensation SIX has just extended its reign in the West End at the Vaudeville Theatre through to Sunday 4 May 2025. Over 152,000 seats will be going on sale as part of the new booking extension, including tickets for six new access performance dates and two new sing-along performances.

The West End production of SIX is also teaming up with its Broadway counterpart on 6 June 2024, where both productions will host a one-night-only post show karaoke called SIX Karaoke (You Have A Voice). The event will see fans welcomed onto the Vaudeville Theatre (West End) and Lena Horne Theatre (Broadway) stages to sing their favourite song from the show’s Tony Award-winning score. To enter, fans are welcomed to post a clip of themselves singing a song from the show to Instagram Reels/TikTok, tag the show @sixthemusical and use the hashtags #YouHaveAVoice and #SIXWestEndKaraoke. The West End post-show karaoke will be hosted by Six West End cast member Hannah Lowther.

The show has also announced two new sing-along performances on 12 January 2025 and 4 May 2025, joining previously announced sing-alongs on 12 May 2024 and 25 August 2024.

Producer Kenny Wax said, We’re absolutely delighted to be extending our reign in London, providing audiences with even more opportunities to Get Down with our incredible Queens and live band until May 2025. We’re also really pleased to be teaming up with our Broadway production in offering the microphone to some talented fans and giving them an opportunity to truly experience how it feels to be a West End star.”

The show’s 2018 debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe hastened its West End transfer in January 2019 to the Arts Theatre. In 2020, SIX transferred for a short West End season to the Lyric Theatre before opening at what Nica Burns the theatre owner calls it’s ‘forever home’, the Vaudeville theatre in November 2021. 

Winner of over 35 international awards, including two 2022 Tony Awards, three WhatsOnStage awards, and nominated for five Oliviers, SIX can also be seen live on stage worldwide: on Broadway at the Lena Horne Theatre in New York, across the UK on its current sell-out, record-breaking tour (currently on a European engagement across Germany, Switzerland and Italy), with a North American tour, a sit-down production in Toronto, a second forthcoming tour in Australia and further productions due to play in Manila and Tokyo, and a return to Holland. Earlier this year, the show achieved 1.5million followers globally – across YouTube, Instagram, X, TikTok and Facebook in the UK, US, Australia, Korea and beyond. Song streams from both soundtracks are soon to reach 1 billion.

The production recently released an exclusive performance, in collaboration with Buckingham Palace, of a new arrangement of Haus of Holbein, filmed at The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, in front of the artist’s works, including portraits of Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Henry VIII.

Think you know the six Wives of Henry VIII? Think again…

Prepare to lose your head and experience the Tudor Wives’ lives as they turn back the clock and take to the stage to reclaim their crowns and retell their stories of love, loss and the infamous ex they all have in common.

Join Aragon, Boleyn, Seymour, Cleves, Howard and Parr, backed by their fierce on-stage band,

the Ladies in Waiting, and Get Down to a royal retelling of the sassiest story in British Her-story.

The current 2023-24 company are Nikki Bentley Catherine of Aragon, Thao Therese Nguyen Anne Boleyn, Kayleigh McKnight Jane Seymour, Reca Oakley as Anna of Cleves, Inez Budd Katherine Howard and Janiq Charles Catherine Parr, with Gabriella Stylianou Alternate Aragon/Seymour and Dance Captain, Naomi Alade (Alternate Boleyn/Cleves, Hannah Lowther as Alternate Howard/Parr, Meg Dixon-Brasil Super Swing and Natalie Pilkington UK Super Swing.

Tickets are on sale now via www.sixthemusical.com  

SIX is written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, with direction by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, Choreography is by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, with set design by Emma Bailey, costume design by Gabriella Slade, lighting design by Tim Deiling, sound design by Paul Gatehouse, musical orchestration by Tom Curran, and musical supervision by Joe Beighton.

Emma Rice’s Blue Beard Review.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre – until 20th April 2024

Reviewed by Emma Millward 

5*****  

“We looked evil in the eye, paid the price for being curious”

Curiosity and its consequences is a theme that runs throughout Emma Rice’s Blue Beard. Based around a French folktale, the most famous version written by Charles Perrault in 1697, it tells the story of a man who continually marries and murders his wives. Emma Rice’s adaptation offers a new spin on an old classic. She presents it through many mediums. There’s horror, comedy, music, cabaret, magic and acrobatics all within one show. 

The show opens with humour and a fair few swear words from our Narrator, Mother Superior (Katy Owen), who leads the Convent of the Three F’s (Fearful, F***** and Furious). She tells the tale of the darkly flamboyant Magician Blue Beard (Tristan Sturrock). We meet Treasure (Patrycja Kujawska) and her two daughters, Lucky (Robyn Sinclair) and Trouble (Stephanie Hockley), who soon become entranced by him. Lucky swiftly marries him. He seduces her and leaves her alone in his beautiful house, with strict instructions not to use a key he hangs from the ceiling that opens a door. Curious Lucky opens the door and finds out the horrifying truth of her new husband’s murderous nature, and the bodies of his previous brides. Alongside this storyline, we also meet Lost Brother (Adam Mirsky) who comes to the Convent for help and tells the story of his older sister (Mirabelle Gremaud), a free-spirited musician who teases him relentlessly before she heads off to perform at her gig. 

The first act does feel a little slower than the second, but ultimately it all ties up perfectly by the finale of the show, and it leaves the audience rethinking everything they have just witnessed. The music throughout the show is performed onstage by both composer Stu Barker and the cast. The score is beautiful, ranging from jazz to classical, with a little bit of rock music thrown in.

The amazing ensemble of eight performers somehow makes it feel like there are many more performers onstage, even when their characters are not directly involved in the action, you can see them at the edges of the stage taking it all in. Although they are all superb in their own right, Katy Owen stands out as the gruff Mother Superior. She is darkly comedic throughout, making the audience laugh one minute, before ultimately breaking our hearts with the most heart-wrenching outpouring of raw emotion that I have ever seen performed onstage before. 

The audience were fully immersed in the show from start to end. From laughing and joining in with the audience participation elements of the show, to total silence (except for the occasional sounds of crying from the audience) at the emotional climax of the piece. The show has an age guidance of 14+. Expect triggering content, explicit language, violence, blood and sexual themes. I attended the show unsure of what to expect. Based on the information I had read beforehand, it sounded like a strange show. But it turned out to be such a thought-provoking and powerful piece of theatre about consent, grief, personal safety and violence.

The School for Scandal Review

Cambridge Arts Theatre, Cambridge – until Sat 13th April 2024

Reviewed by Steph Lott

5*****

Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s classic comedy “The School for Scandal” receives a lively and engaging treatment in Tilted Wig’s recent production at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. Director Sean Aydon’s vision breathes new life into this 18th-century masterpiece, making it accessible and enjoyable for modern audiences.

The talented cast, led by Joseph Marcell as Sir Peter Teazle, deliver a slick and well-paced performance. Nearly all the actors take on two roles, showcasing their versatility and skill. Guy Dennis effortlessly switches between the roles of Rowley and Snake, while Ayesha Griffiths shines as both Maria and Weasel. Emily-Jane McNeill’s portrayal of Lady Sneerwell and Careless is equally impressive, as is Lydea Perkins’ dual role as Lady Teazle and Mrs Candour.

Special mention must be given to Alex Phelps and Garmon Rhys, who steal the show with their comedic timing and physical capers. Phelps’ Joseph and Bumper are delightfully contrasting characters, while Rhys’ Charles and Backbite had the audience in stitches. Tony Timberlake rounds out the cast with his solid performances as Sir Oliver and Crabtree.

Aydon’s direction ensures that the play maintains an excellent pace throughout, keeping the audience engaged and entertained. The cast’s ability to handle the 1777 dialogue and make it accessible to modern ears is commendable, and their energy and enthusiasm are infectious.

The production’s visual elements are equally impressive. The costumes are a feast for the eyes, with vivid colours and bold designs that perfectly capture the spirit of the era. The attention to detail in the set design and props further immerses the audience in the world of the play.

A special nod must also be given to the theatre programme, which is a work of art in itself. The creative and beautifully coloured design is a refreshing departure from the usual fare, making it a delightful keepsake for theatregoers.

In conclusion, Tilted Wig’s production of “The School for Scandal” is a triumph. The talented cast, skilful direction, and stunning visual elements come together to create a thoroughly enjoyable evening of theatre. This timeless comedy proves that wit, humour, and human foibles are as relevant today as they were in Sheridan’s time.

Join Paulus (BBC1’s All Together Now), writer and performer of Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood, for National Two Soups Day on Saturday 20 April 2024

Join Paulus (BBC1’s All Together Now), 

writer and performer of Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood,

for National Two Soups Day on Saturday 20 April 2024

Paulus (‘The Cabaret Geek’, BBC1’s All Together Now judge), the writer and performer of the hit touring show Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood, is inviting fellow fans of the late British comedy genius and national treasure to take part in National Two Soups Day on Saturday 20 April, the date which marks the eighth anniversary of Victoria’s passing.  Inspired by the lyrics of Victoria’s iconic Ballad of Barry & Freda, Paulus is pairing stilettos with an oven glove in a fresh new photoshoot celebrating National Two Soups Day 2024.

Five years ago, Paulus held his first National Two Soups Day, an idea based on the classic soup-based sketch from Victoria Wood As Seen on TV starring Julie Walters, Celia Imrie and Duncan Preston. Victoria’s fans take a photo of their soup-based breakfast, lunch or dinner, shop-bought or home-made, and then post it online on their social media, tagging #twosoupsday. Paulus makes a fresh soup before lovingly re-enacting Victoria’s iconic (and messy!) sketch in his London kitchen.  

Paulus is best known as BBC1’s All Together Now judge and also as one of the UK’s forefront entertainers and educators specialising in cabaret. As an Ambassador for Cabaret vs Cancer Paulus is suggesting that fans donate to the charity in Victoria’s memory to mark National Two Soups Day if they feel able.

Visit https://www.cabaretvscancer.co.uk (registered UK Charity No. 1167819). This small registered charity, run by Rose Thorne, raises money through world-class cabaret and burlesque, in order to support those affected by cancer. Since 2016, the charity has been working with child bereavement teams in local hospices, to ensure they have the tools and support they need to help children who are losing or have lost a close relative. Additionally, they work with various organisations to support those currently living with cancer, from the manufacture of modern breast forms for post-mastectomy women to The Loss Foundation and many more. 

Paulus said: “My hope is that those who loved Victoria and her sketches and songs will come together to take part in this annual fundraiser, remembering Victoria fondly and with a smile, whilst expanding the reach of this small but brilliant charity.” 

Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood features a whistle-stop tour of 21 of Victoria Wood’s best-loved songs. It is filled with love, laughter and fabulous memories for Victoria’s fans as well as being the ultimate ‘beginner’s guide’ for audiences new to her work. The show has served up nostalgia, music and laughter at Edinburgh Fringe, sold out UK venues UK since 2020 and had the seal of approval from Victoria’s colleagues, school-chums and fans. It is directed by multi-award-winning cabaret artist Sarah-Louise Young(An Evening Without Kate Bush), with acclaimed pianist Michael Roulston (Fascinating Aida)joining Pauluson stage. For a full list of 2024 tour dates, visit: http://www.lookingformefriend.com.

The new musical OPENING NIGHT will now end its run on 18 May 2024

THE NEW MUSICAL

OPENING NIGHT

WILL NOW END ITS RUN AT THE GIELGUD THEATRE

ON 18 MAY 2024

Wessex Grove, Gavin Kalin Productions and Playful Productions announced today that the new musical John Cassavetes’ OPENING NIGHT will now end its run at the Gielgud Theatre on Saturday 18 May 2024.

The shows limited run was originally until 27 July 2024. Patrons who have tickets from 20 May – 27 July 2024 will be contacted direct by their point of sale.

Producers Wessex Grove said today “It is an honour to produce this beautiful new musical in the West End, and everyone at Wessex Grove is proud to have delivered the artistic vision of Ivo Van Hove and Rufus Wainwright and their incredible team, led by the exquisite Sheridan Smith. In a challenging financial landscape, OPENING NIGHT was always a risk and, while the production may not have had the life we had hoped for, we feel immensely proud of the risk we took and of this extraordinary production. Our world class cast delivers a brilliant show night after night, and there are still five weeks left to see Sheridan Smith in the role of a lifetime. What is sure-fire and safe has its place. But Wessex Grove exists to produce great artists in the West End and to provide the space for original, artist-led productions in the commercial sector, productions exactly like OPENING NIGHT. We’re grateful for all of the support everyone has given us as we made this show, and look forward to celebrating the rest of the run.” 

Ivo Van Hove said today “I had the most wonderful and inspiring time making OPENING NIGHT thanks to the talent and commitment of our incredible cast and production team. They were led by the exceptional Sheridan Smith, who had the bravery to play such a complex role in the West End. I try to be fearless and sincere in everything I make. With Rufus’s beautiful music, we made something totally unique and true to John Cassavetes’ daring exploration of the human condition. It will forever have a special place in my heart. It is always sad when a show closes early but I know that OPENING NIGHT will live long in the memories of those who saw it and made it.”  

OPENING NIGHT stars Sheridan Smith as MyrtleHadley Fraser as Manny, Shira Haas as Nancy, Nicola Hughes as Sarah, Amy Lennox as Dorothy and John Marquez as David will be Benjamin Walker as MauriceRebecca Thornhill as KellyCilla Silvia as CarlaIan McLarnon as Leo and Jos Slovick as Gus. The cast is completed by Robert Finlayson, Daniel Forrester, Jennifer Hepburn, Issy Khogali and Chrissie Perkins.

OPENING NIGHT has a Book by Ivo Van Hove with Music and Lyrics by Rufus Wainwright. It is Directed and conceived by Ivo Van Hove, has Scenic and Lighting Design by Jan Versweyveld, Costume Design by An D’Huys and Sound Design by Tom Gibbons and Alex Twiselton. Orchestrations are by Rufus Wainwright, with Musical Supervision and Musical Direction by Nigel Lilley. Movement and Choreography is by Polly Bennett, Casting by Julia Horan CDG and the Associate Director is Daniel Raggett.

The Wizard of Oz Review

Theatre Royal, Nottingham – until Saturday 13 April 2024

Reviewed by Amy Coulson

5*****

Toto…reader…we’re not in Kansas anymore!

We have been transported into a strange but beautiful new land…and isn’t that just a great metaphor for visiting (or escaping to) the theatre!

I was beyond excited to find out that The Vivienne would be starring in The Wizard of Oz at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham. I knew that her uniqueness, nerve and talent would make for the most memorable wicked witch. The Vivienne found international fame when she was crowned winner on the popular TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. The winner, who takes her name from the British icon Dame Vivienne Westwood lives up to her namesake in this production by being equally as stylish as she is ashamedly vocal and wickedly determined.

Joining The Vivienne, the principal company is completed by Aviva Tully (The Book of Mormon) as Dorothy, Benjamin Yates (ITV’s Emmerdale; Jersey Boys, West End) as The Scarecrow, Nic Greenshields (Love Never Dies West End; Les Misérables West End, International Tour) as The Cowardly Lion, Alex Bourne (Annie, West End, UK Tour, Toronto; Hairspray, UK Tour) as The Wizard, Emily Bull (9 to 5, UK Tour; Matilda UK Tour) as Glinda The Good Witch and Abigail Matthews as Toto (Bleak Expectations, West End; War Horse, West End).

Avia Tully’s performance as Dorothy is beautiful. Her rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow has the audience in tears and her innocent but determined nature is a joy to watch.

Toto is amongst my favourite characters, a gorgeous puppet guided by Matthew’s who moves almost in the shadows to bring this doggo to life. Absolutely magical.

Emily Bull as Glinda, The Good Witch is sickly sweet in her appearance, think Penelope Pitstop meets Barbie, and receives a modern twist by arriving on an unexpected mode of transport…you’ll have to watch it, no spoilers here!

Yates as The Scarecrow is hilarious as he strives to remember what he’s missing and where he’s going and Greenfields as the Cowardly Lion is a slice of nostalgia as he does a wonderful job of mimicking the character we knew and loved as children and

I have to say that this production does not rest its laurels on its fabulous casting or indeed its infamous story. There is an extra injection of camp here, which makes for an enjoyable if not pantomime-esque show. At the interval I wonder if the chorus of Elton John and Su Pollard lookalikes is a step too far, but then I see the look on my Mums face and decide it’s all good fun!

Set Designer Colin Richmond has certainly had a lot of fun, bringing the infamous yellow brick road to life. The projection design by Douglas O’Connell gives us something that feels straight out of London; exciting and modern.

I did find the Cowardly Lion’s trainers and socks a little distracting, does Adidas exist in Oz too I found myself thinking, but otherwise, Costume and Puppet Designer Rachael Canning has done a splendid job. The stage is awash with colour and again, the puppet is wonderful in its movement and personality.

Time to click my heels and make my way home, but I’ll be sure to follow the yellow brick road back to the Theatre Royal Nottingham again soon for some more much-needed escapism!