23/12/22 | General

Lymm Panto hits the heights

Author: Simon Plumb

Following an 8-night sell-out run this year’s Lymm Panto, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was highly acclaimed, perhaps one of the best ever.

With fans travelling from as far afield as the south coast, Yorkshire, London and the Midlands, it certainly drew a great reaction every night as the audiences erupted in laughter and communal song at every opportunity.

Following a brief hiatus with Covid in 2022, fans of the show were delighted to return to the 35th Lymm Panto, using the new online ticketing system, which was trialled in the summer for the Vaudeville Show. This facilitated audience members pre-allocated seating which was both more comfortable and took the stress away.

David Simpson, the Club Chairman commented, ‘I really admire and appreciate all the work the entire cast, crew, Front of House team and Alan Troy’s bar staff  put into making this annual extravaganza the institution it has become. It shows Lymm Rugby Club in the very best light and everyone should be very proud of themselves. They are a credit to each other and the local community,’ he commented. ‘We made an estimated £35k in profit which is brilliant as we look to kick-start the ongoing development of the club.’

Below is a review by theatre critic Sarah Maguire.

‘The Wizard of Oz’ review

by Sarah Maguire

The Lymm Rugby Club pantomime returned with a bang this December. Its success was most markedly demonstrated by consistent full houses, even during the England vs France World Cup game.The 35th edition of the show was ‘The Wizard of Oz’, starring Hayley Cornelia as Dorothy and Brian Hope as the Aussie Wizard.

To all intents and purposes, the show followed its winning tried-and-tested formula of sketches, songs, gags, puns and dance numbers, with a few extra serious solos and show tunes added to the recipe for 2022.

Highlights included Sara Warton’s performance as Russian accented Wicked Witch of the East – A Broom-o-Vitch. Usually filling goody-two-shoes roles like Mrs Darling in ‘Peter Pants’ and Mrs Teacup in ‘Beauty and her Wee Beastie’ , she really got her teeth into playing the baddy.

Paul Foulkes also cracked the audience up with his physical ticks in his role as The Good Witch of the North, aka the Witch with a Twitch. Adam Halford, meanwhile, threw himself into the character of the Scarecrow in search of a brain – making the cast, as well as the audience, laugh out loud with his simple wide-eyed facial expressions.

A personal favourite for me was the performance of The Lion Sleeps Tonight by 56-year-old, 20- stone, Keith Broadbent, who appeared scantily dressed in a loincloth, after a scene in which the Cowardly Lion was introduced. The song had the audience a-wim-o-weying along and markedly warmed up the crowd for the rest of the show.

On the topic of the Cowardly Lion, Paul Rigby put in another great performance in this character. His back catalogue of roles includes dames, Frankenstein’s monster, and the Genie in Aladdin and he always brings the characters to life.

This year’s edition of the panto also saw some new faces join the cast. Player Rob Makin and Head coach Andy Davies injected energy and dynamism into the show, especially during their performance as the Wicked Witch of the East’s evil flying monkeys, in which they used grey feather boas as wings.

As always, panto regulars enjoyed Simon Plumb’s ventriloquist act with Charlie the dummy, but many were left scratching their heads as to the whereabouts of the chicken this year – Avian flu perhaps?

They also enjoyed a risqué scene, of the sort that Lymm panto aficionados have come to love, in which Mark Hesketh, dressed as the Tinman in a full silver body suit, squirted water from a funnel placed suggestively just below his hips. As usual, the unsung heroes of the panto were the band and the backstage crew, without whom the show wouldn’t be able to take place. The performance was rounded out, as usual, by a full cast rendition of Slade’s Merry Christmas Everyone, led energetically by Paul Maguire, which left the entire room in the festive spirit.I for one will be following the Yellow Brick Road to next year’s panto!


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