Panto At The Pier Review

Every year when I was a little girl, we had a church outing to the pantomime during advent. Christmas was around the corner, we had time off school, and it was so exciting to step out of the cold and into the grand theatre with its red velvet seats, swirling spotlights, and colourful costumes. 

illuminated Blackpool 'north pier' entrance sign

It's no surprise that after being enchanted by these panto performances, I wanted to give it a go myself, and through high school I took dance classes. On one occasion my class did a show at Blackpool's North Pier theatre, and I forgot every single move. After that disaster I decided that it was best left to the professionals, which is exactly what I did when I went along to the opening night of Panto At The Pier: Wizard Of Oz last week. 

rainbow poster for panto at the pier wizard of oz

The whole production was incredible, with original songs, jokes, and scenes all adding a hilarious twist on the classic tale we all know and love. The set design was fantastic, the acting was excellent, and there was even a troop of mini munchkins who did so well to perform several fast paced dances in front of the vast audience. Although there were tiny technical hitches on the night, the whole cast kept the show running smoothly and to a really high standard throughout. 

One aspect that made it such a quality performance for me was the costume design. Glinda's dress was a stunning sequin affair that sparkled and shone just like the character, and the actress, Rachel Slattery, was just as amazing. With her powerful voice and dainty dance routines, she could play Glinda in Wicked on the West End any day. 

Reece Sibbald played the part of Hickory and the scarecrow, and led both Dorothy and the audience on the journey through Oz, bringing humour and warmth with a mix of clever jokes and slapstick comedy. The children behind me hardly stopped giggling, but neither did my mum! The panto was definitely aimed towards the whole family and not just the kids, which will be a relief for any parent needing a break from Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol this summer holiday. 

rows of empty wooden seats in North Pier theatre

While the children close by me were engaged and enjoyed themselves, I did feel that the audience massively let the cast down. As I said, visiting the theatre used to be a huge treat for me, and stepping into the 1500 seat auditorium still felt special to me as an adult, but sadly that was lost on a lot of people, and they chose to wave their phones around or simply not join in. Undeterred, the cast remained professional and came back for the second half with even higher energy and enthusiasm, refusing to let it dampen the atmosphere.  Hopefully the audiences will be more appreciative as the show runs on, but I'd still recommend arriving early and sitting in the front rows to really make the most of the show. 

red curtains closed on stage in North Pier theatre

Speaking of a damp atmosphere, we left the theatre and walked straight into a thunderstorm. For a moment I thought I would be swept off to Oz myself! Despite the torrents, each member of the cast came out, and stayed until every waiting child had met them and had a picture. I was blown away (ha!) by how kind and professional they were. 

If you're looking for a family activity in the summer holidays, or even just an unusual date night, I would highly recommend The Wizard Of Oz to get all ages giggling, clapping, and singing along! The show is on every Wednesday between July 27th and August 23rd, and performances start at 7pm. Tickets start at £8, and can be booked online here or via the box office telephone line on 01253 623304/621452. 

What's your favourite part of a panto?

I was gifted my ticket in exchange for review, but this will never sway my opinion or alter my honesty. For more information please see my disclaimer.



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