DOROTHY'S journey to the Emerald City is given the pantomime treatment in the Georgian Theatre’s seasonal offering written and directed by Clare Allen.

It is a colourful and warm-hearted affair with the excellent Gary Bridgens leading the company in the role of Dame Glinda.

Bridgens is never at a loss for an ad-lib or ready quip and is so at ease on stage that he is the epitome of the traditional variety and music hall performer. He captures the essence of the panto dame, endearing himself to the kids while nudging risqué asides towards the adults.

Freya Mawhinney plays a plucky young Dorothy, who is accompanied on her quest by Edward Cole’s numerate and highly intellectual Scarecrow; Ross Dean’s too big-hearted Tin Man (who can cry the most extraordinary tears), and Nick O’Connor’s rock-and-rolling, cake-loving, Elvis the Lion… In the Gateau? Really?

As well as emanating evil as the very green witch, Alfalfa, Sarah Kearsley introduces her own rescued Cockapoo, Jackson, to the stage as a very well-trained Toto. A sad past has given him a real rags-to-riches tail to wag - and he does.

The journey along the Yellow Brick Road is given colourful, picture-book sets by Foxton, and Naomi Parker provides beautifully inventive costumes for the cast. Together with the technical wizardry of the production team - look out for the inaugural flight of Richmond’s Mayor - the Georgian has provided an infectiously good-hearted journey to Oz.

Laurence Sach