Oz brings down the house

Laughter flies like house in a tornado at Cawston Players Wizard of Oz

  • Dec. 14, 2017 4:40 p.m.

After three hilarious and sold out shows the Cawston Players will ease on down the road and call it a wrap for their first pantomime production of the Wizard of Oz.

Su Wolfe, who wrote, directed and played Glinda, in the traditional British pantomime said the cast and crew were “marvelous.”

“They caught on quickly and really embraced this. They’ve never done a pantomime before. It was excellent,” she said following the third and final show Sunday afternoon.

Wolfe wrote the pantomime years ago when she still lived in England. A pantomime is generally a twist on a fairytale type story that includes jokes, dances, songs, comedic embellishment and lots of audience participation.

Wolfe’s comedic spin on the Wizard of Oz has been performed many times in large theatres in England and while she lived in the Lower Mainland.

Wolfe moved to Cawston about 18 months ago after living in the Lower Mainland for 10 years.

“We always wanted to live in the South Okanagan,” she said.

Her and husband Chris Wolfe scouted the area for property before choosing Cawston.

“We wanted to be a part of a small community. We never expected their to be a theatre group here. It’s wonderful that there is and we’re so happy to be a part of it.”

After being part of a few productions, Wolfe suggested the Cawston Players consider taking on a pantomime.

The Players started casting in September. Rehearsals started in October.

The about 90-minute show included several musical numbers. Of course, it wouldn’t be Wizard of Oz without Over the Rainbow, but it wouldn’t be a Wizard of Oz pantomime without songs like Britney Spears Toxic or the Spice Girls Spice Up Your Life.

A breakout bit, is when the story takes a pantomime detour style as Dorothy played by Jamie Forner is captured by the Wicked Witch of the West played by Amanda Elyzen and evil sidekick Squeeker (Robynne Frasch).

New friends Tinman (Mari Abraham), Scarecrow (Holly Hart) and Cowardly Lion (Kyla Mathieson) devise a plan to save Dorothy by pretending to be the Spice Girls.

The Wicked Witch is so star stuck she doesn’t notice at first that Baby Spice is made of straw, and Scary Spice has a tale.

Other flips in the script included the munchkins having an appetite for small dogs like Toto and the Wicked Witch having minions instead of flying monkeys.

When asked what her favourite bit was in the panto, Wolfe couldn’t decide.

“It’s my baby. My creation. Its great silly fun.”

Wolfe noted about 40 people were involved with the production from the actors to those behind the stage and those selling tickets.

“Everyone is important. Everyone really got in there and we couldn’t have done this without everyone pitching in,” she said.

Bob McAtmney who played the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and is a longtime member of the players said the production included a large number of children.

Many of the munchkins/minions were played by local adults and children including Maggie Frasch, Flo Winfrey, Nicolina Schwetje, Trinity Russell, Nathan Frasch, Nolan Benson, Mackenzie Benson and Maggie MacDonald.

“It was great having so many young people be a part of this production and have a chance to get on stage,” he said.

McAtmney said the show was one of the most well-attended productions since the Cawston Players started in 2001.

“We really want to thank the community for coming out and supporting us. We think, ‘hey let’s put this on,’ but we never really know till the first night if anyone is going to come and see us. We’re so grateful that they do and they enjoy it as much as we do.”

The Cawston Players put on several productions a year. At this time it’s unknown what the next production will be.

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Tara Bowie Several of the main characters pose for a picture while standing on the yellow brick road after the final performance of the Wizard of Oz pantomime at the Cawston Hall Sunday. Inclucded in the picture is Mari Abraham, Tinman, Jamie Forner, Dorothy Gale, Robynne Frasch, Squeeker, Kyla Mathieson, Cowardly Lion, Amanda Elyzen, Wicked Witch of the West, Su Wolfe, Glinda, Holly Hart, Scarecrow.

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